San Francisco has an exciting new udon restaurant in town, and it’s not in Japantown: it’s in the mall. Marugame Udon discreetly opened its doors in Stonestown Galleria before Christmas, debuting an authentic cafeteria-style udon and tempura spot with affordable prices.
Nestled in between Olive Garden and Chipotle, the 100-seat wood-clad restaurant is reminiscent of a bustling udon shop in Japan, with a varied selection of udon noodle bowls. Diners order their bowl (hot or cold and small or large) which is boiled to order. Then it’s on to the tempura and musubi bar where diners can choose their own options, like potato croquettes, shrimp tempura, or rice balls filled with salmon, and ending with a stop at the toppings bar where udon bowls are finished with cilantro, green onions, or tempura crumbles.
It fits right in with its affordably priced neighbors: The basic kama-age udon is $4.50, while the more loaded nikutama bowl (with sweet beef, soft egg, kake sauce) is $8.50 for a regular size and $9.50 for a large; other preset options include beef, curry, spicy chicken, and egg drop chicken. Meanwhile tempura ranges from $1.30 to $2.20 per piece, depending on what you’re into.
The Marugame location in Stonestown Galleria is only the second in the United States, following the fall opening of a shop in LA’s Sawtelle neighborhood. Meanwhile, there are 786 stores currently open in Japan, with another 204 stores across 12 countries. So, they’ve kind of got this udon thing dialed in.
Ramen has long been the top noodle bowl in the Bay Area. Could udon be looking to unseat it? Kagawa-Ya Udon opened on Market Street last year, while an udon shop from the team behind Dumpling Time and Omakase is headed to the Design District.
A grand opening is planned for January 18, with a special opening though its now open daily from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. with a limited menu. Eventually, hours will be 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily.