The Jakarta Post
More choices are around for noodle lovers -- the capital has just welcomed the arrival of Marugame Udon, a self-service restaurant for udon (thick wheat-flour noodles) and tempura.
The restaurant is a franchise of Japan's Marugame Seimen, whose headquarters are located in Kobe, Japan. Besides its home-country outlets and the one in Jakarta, the chain also has outlets in Hawaii, Bangkok, Shanghai, Sydney, Moscow and Seoul.
In Jakarta, Marugame Udon, which is under the management of PT Sriboga Marugame Indonesia, offers an authentic Japanese flavor, ambience and interior design at affordable prices.
The restaurant provides fresh udon noodles all day, which is helped by the fact that its management comes under Indonesia's major flour producer, the Sriboga group.
Nevertheless, the restaurant has a laid-back feel, allowing diners to eat while chatting without enforcing a strict dress code.
Marugame Udon highlights its healthy and yummy dishes, while providing a speedy service with its fast-food-type ordering system.
'It is an open-kitchen restaurant. Customers can see what's going on in the kitchen when they order. All our ingredients are fresh because we don't keep ingredients for more than one day,' said Iwan Liyono, area manager of the restaurant's branch at the Taman Anggrek shopping center in West Jakarta.
Arriving at the restaurant, guests are welcomed by a long display counter, where they line up to order from a variety of dishes at the udon and tempura stations.
The diner offers eight types of udon, 10 varieties of tempura and four types of rice dishes.
The restaurant claims that all the dishes are displayed for no longer than 20 minutes after they are made.
The udon dishes include Kamage Udon ' special udon noodles served with warm bukake dashi soup - which is also available in a family package suitable for four to six people; Kake Udon, served with kake dashi soup; Tori Baitang Udon, udon noodles with a white broth and chicken meatballs, and Mentai Kamatama Udon, which is served with a special sauce made from mentaiko fish eggs and a half-cooked omega egg.
Then there is Zaru Udon ' cold udon noodles served with cold bukake dashi soup; or Tama Udon, udon noodles with bukake dashi soup and a half-cooked omega egg, which is available in hot and cold versions; Niku Udon, which comprises udon noodles with slices of sukiyaki meat in a kake dashi soup, and Beef Curry Udon, which is udon noodles with sukiyaki meat slices showered with thick curry soup.
Marugame Udon also offers specially designed chopsticks, which have a rounded tip that helps to preserve the authentic texture of the udon noodles.
In addition to the udon, mouthwatering tempura dishes come next. For those who are big fans of tempura flakes, this is the perfect place.
The tempura choices range from Kakiage (vegetable tempura); Tori Tempura (chicken); Sweet Potato Tempura; Egg Tempura; Chicken Chili Tempura (green chili stuffed with chicken); Ebi Tempura (shrimp); Skewered Tofu Roll (tofu filled with shrimp); Broccoli Tempura; Kisu Tempura (kisu fish), and Beef Croquette.
The eatery also offers a Sukiyaki Beef Bowl (Japanese steamed rice with slices of savory sukiyaki meat); Beef Curry Rice (Japanese steamed rice with slices of sukiyaki meat in a thick curry soup); Tendon Tori Rice (Japanese steamed rice topped with vegetables, egg and chicken tempura), and Tendon Seafood Rice (Japanese steamed rice topped with vegetables, kisu fish and shrimp tempura).
After ordering their food, diners can order some drinks ' hot and cold Japanese green tea is always available ' and pay for their meals.
A short walk from the cashier, special condiments are provided for guests who savor complementary ingredients such as slices of chili, leeks, sesame seeds, ginger and tenkatsu (crunchy tempura flakes).
The flavors of all the dishes on the menu have been adjusted to local tastes following a series of food tastings and forum discussions.
One particular favorite, kake udon, is served simply with a fresh flavor and the portion is adequate. Other udon dishes that have an extra richness, such as meat and seafood, are served in larger portions.
Udon and Tempura
Mall Taman Anggrek, 3rd Floor
Jl. Letjen. S. Parman Kav. 21, West Jakarta
Prices: Rp 7,000 (65 US cents) to Rp 85,000