Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant (500 yen)

Marugame Seimen is conveniently located in the bustling Sanjo-Kawaramachi neighborhood and offers Kyoto’s best cost performance for tasty, filling and healthy meals. Marugame serves udon noodle dishes and the udon is actually made fresh, right on the premises! No ‘Made in China’ and ‘Defrosted in Kyoto’ budget noodle dishes here!

Marugame Seimen (丸亀製麺) is an up-and-coming national chain, and this conveniently located restaurant opened in central Kyoto very recently. I have been here twice this summer. The noodles were great — and CHEAP — about half the customers were foreign travelers.

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Ordering Udon at Marugame -- Foreigner Friendly, English Menu

Cheap Eats in Kyoto Series
This is part one of a series on decent restaurants in Kyoto where a traveler on a budget can get a tasty, healthy meal with English-friendly service.

About ‘Hearty’ Sanuki Udon
Sanuki is the ancient name for Kagawa prefecture in Shikoku. Udon came to Japan along with Buddhist teachings from China by the great Buddhist monk Kukai (AKA Kobo Taishi) more than 1000 years ago. Shikoku is udon country and folks down there don’t go in for any of that delicate and understated Kyoto-style taste. They like their noodles hefty and hearty, and made with wheat flour.

Adding several pieces of tempura on top of sanuki udon is popular and very tasty!

(For more about sanuki udon, and a Kyoto udon restaurant that serves authentic, handmade sanuki udon, see this KyotoFoodie article.)

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Update: Bukkake Udon with Kakiage Tempura and Inari Sushi

Update: I went back to Marugame and had kakiage tempura (a nest of sliced onion, carrot, yam, squash) on my udon. Marugame’s kakiage tempura is interesting, usually it is flat like an English muffin but here they deep fry it in a special basket that creates a huge ball of kakiage. Break the kakiage up with your chopsticks and eat it with your udon. It is very delicious but does probably packs a lot of calories as there is a lot of surface area for oil to adhere to — perfect for hungry travelers!

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Bukkake Udon with Tempura Added

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Bukkake Udon with Tempura Added

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Curry Udon

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Curry Udon

How to Order and Add Toppings
Marugame offers numerous udon dishes, most are available hot or cold. You can order regular size (nami, 並), or large (dai, 大). There are photos of each dish (so you can always just point) and an English menu for foreign customers with Chinese and Korean. The staff is very friendly with foreigners.

After getting your bowl of noodles you can choose from several kinds of tempura ‘toppings’ to customize your udon to suit your taste. Fresh made onigiri rice balls and inari sushi are offered as well. (ONLY tempura is a topping, the others are sided-dishes.) There is ten kasu (tempura flakes), scallions, grated ginger and soy sauce to add for additional flavor, free of charge. I like plenty of ten kasu and scallions, a bit of grated ginger, but I don’t use additional soy sauce.

Cost Performance
I ordered bukkake udon and added 2 pieces of tempura, squid and kabocha squash. That was tasty and filling but I went back for another round, a bowl of untraditional curry udon. I paid a grand total of 840 yen — for two meals! 840 yen for a single meal in Kyoto is ‘budget’ dining.

I was stuffed and skipped breakfast the next morning. So, if you are a hungry traveler on a budget, you can fill up on calories here and be fully fueled for a full day of sightseeing the next day.

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Tempura, Onigiri Rice Balls and Inari Sushi is Self-service -- and Tasty!

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Making Sanuki Udon: The Noodle Boss and Udon Making Machine

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Making Sanuki Udon: The Noodle Boss and Udon Making Machine

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

The Noodle Boss Boiling Sanuki Udon

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

The Noodle Boss Checking the Udon Noodles

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Select Flour from Hokkaido at the Entrance

I liked this a lot. While it is not very ‘Kyoto’ to have 25 kg bags of flour sitting on a wooden pallet next to the door it does show you that they make the noodle right here, just in case you missed the noodle boss and udon making machine in the front window! I sat at the entrance, next to the flour sacks and opposite the udon making operation and there was actually a light dusting of flour on the counter! Again, not very Kyoto, but real.

I highly recommend this restaurant for budget travelers. Even if you are not on a tight budget and want to try sanuki udon in central Kyoto, this is the place to go. Though simple and cheap, it is a novel dining experience. Try to sit up front and glance over your shoulder once in a while to see the noodle boss making udon. The theatrical aspect is very Japanese.

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant 京都 丸亀製麺

Marugame Udon Storefront - Notice Flour Sacks on Left, Noodle Boss on Right

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Access and Info
location: Marugame is located on the west side of Kawaramachi Street just south of the Kawaramachi and Sanjo streets intersection.

business hours: Open everyday from 11 am to 10 pm (last order is 9:30 pm)

website: www.toridoll.com/shop/marugame/ (no English)
tel: 075-231-0700
address: Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Kawaramachi-dori, Sanjo-sagaru, Daikoku-cho 54-1 (京都市中京区河原町通三条下る大黒町54-1)

Map to Marugame Seimen (Kawaramachi Sanjo Store)

View OpenKyoto/KyotoFoodie Map in a larger map

Article Links and Reference
website (Japanese language): www.toridoll.com/shop/marugame/
History of Udon (Wikipedia article): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udon

6 Responses to “Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant (500 yen)”

  1. […] Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Marugame Udon Noodle Restaurant (500 yen) […]

  2. […] this article about Tenshu in Gion and recently briefly mentioned on OpenKyoto in this article about 500 yen dinner at Marugame in […]

  3. igb says:

    We’re visiting Kyoto for a few days and have just taken up your recommendation and eaten at Marugame Udon. Excellent food, both we and our children enjoyed it, they had an English menu for us gaijin and the price was excellent. Perfect.

  4. […] I have had a few bites. (Here are a few Kyoto kakiage links: Gion Tenshu, Yoshikawa Tempura and Marugame Udon) Cold Summer Noodles with Tempura – All Mixed […]

  5. Susan says:

    We were visiting Kyoto for 2 days and decided to drop by here. Never been a huge fan of udon but now I want to franchise this place. So awesome! The chef and staff are incredibly friendly and are pretty conversant in English as well!

  6. Corazon Fabros says:

    We will definitely try this place when my daughter and I visit Kyoto this summer.

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