The chain will open its first location on the U.S. mainland.

By Mike Pomranz
August 22, 2017
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Earlier this summer, Ikinari Steak—one of Japan's most successful restaurant chains—opened its first location in the United States, testing out whether New Yorkers would be interested in a quick-service high-end steakhouse that requires customers to stand. Now, on America's other coast, another successful Japanese chain is hoping to lure in Angelenos with another intriguing concept: a noodle-making machine.

Marugame Udon is already a well-established chain featuring nearly 800 locations in Japan alone and another 186 in 13 other countries. (The company brags it's the #1 udon noodles restaurant chain, though with numbers like those, who would even be its closest competition?) The cafeteria-style casual dining spot is known for its made-to-order dishes prepared in a "beautiful open kitchen." But as the brand explains, the real kicker is not the where, but the how: "To create these noodles, Marugame Udon is equipped with an original, Japanese-imported machine that mimics traditional methods to efficiently knead the flour, every day and on-demand.... Udon noodles are fresh kneaded, cut, boiled and cooked right in front of you." The result is authentic Sanuki Udon, "which differs from similar Japanese Udon noodles in its taste and texture." With noodle bowls starting at $4.50, the company touts its affordability as well.

"Marugame Udon is presenting traditional Japanese cuisine in an entirely new light and bringing this to the forefront," said Jun Goto, President and CEO of the company's U.S. venture. "We're excited to combine authentic flavors without sacrificing individuality."

The noodle-making machine, as well as the actual living employees necessary to complete your order, are set to start making noodles at 2029 Sawtelle Blvd. in the Japantown neighborhood of Los Angeles on September 14. It will be the first Marugame Udon location in the U.S. mainland. (The brand is already up and running in Hawaii.) From there, the plan is to expand to other parts of the country, though exactly where and when isn't yet known.