Marugame Udon, which has more than 800 fast casual restaurants in Japan and a further 250 across Asia, the US and Russia, announced it was coming to London last summer by way of a new joint venture between Toridoll Holdings Corporation and Capdesia Group.
Marugame Udon (Europe) will become the master franchisee for the region with the 4,000 sq ft restaurant straddling Middlesex Street and Widegate Street to be followed by an ambitious roll out plan involving a combination of both owned and franchise operations in the UK and Europe.
The company, which is headed by Keith Bird, an advisor at sushi-focused fast casual restaurant group Wasabi, says it hopes to eventually operate 6,000 restaurants worldwide.
The food will be surprisingly affordable, with mains from as little £3.45, with vegan dishes will make up 30% of the main menu.
"We feel the market is now ready to embrace a more authentic and specialised offer but at a very affordable price point - essentially a fast-casual offer, in terms of quality of food and experience, but closer to QSR prices,” Bird says.
Marugame Udon will be going up against fellow Japanese udon business Kineya Mugimaru, which made its London debut last year.
Founded in Osaka in 1967, Kineya Mugimaru has been brought to the UK by Dong Hyun Kim, founder of Wasabi and currently operates a restaurant in St Pancras International.
Marugame Udon specialises in Sanuki udon, which differs from similar Japanese Udon noodles in its taste and texture.
Sanuki is a region of the Kagawa prefecture in Japan known for its udon noodles, with the company producing noodles daily in its restaurants using Japanese-imported machines that mimic traditional preparation methods.
The noodles then undertake an aging process where they are stored in a temperature-controlled environment.
Menu items include bukkake served with house made kake sauce; terikayi chicken bowl; chicken katsu sando; kitsune - made with Kake undon and sweet fried tofu; Sanuki udon noodles with a beef curry broth; and tonkontsu with chasu pork.
The tempura selection includes chicken, shrimp, squid, crab meat and sweet potato that are cooked in front of the customer, accompanied by toppings such as freshly grated ginger, green onion, tempura flakes and sesame seeds.
Marugame Udon Liverpool Street is expected to open in July.