Ramen, raamen, raaamen… on every corner, in every mall – especially if you are in a big Japanese city. But what if you want something different? Hanamaru Udon is your solution – the perfect light meal served hot or cold depending on the season!
Udon is a thick, Japanese wheat flour noodle, traditionally served with a simple broth made of dashi, soy sauce and mirin and topped with spring onions and a variety of other toppings of your choice. Enjoying udon at a high quality, specialized restaurant is an experience in itself! For a glimpse into the life of a working Japanese person off for a quick, cheap and easy lunch, Hanamaru Udon might be your best bet.
Scattered across Tokyo and other major cities in Japan (about 350 shops!), as well as expansions abroad, Hanamaru has a simple system – reminiscent of a school canteen – that keeps the noodles fresh and the customers flowing. Steam rises and noodles splash into boiling water from behind the bustling counter as friendly and welcoming waiters call out orders.
For an authentic Japanese fast food experience, follow this simple Hanamaru guide!
1. Grab a tray from the stack laid out along the counter.
2. Choose the udon you wish to eat. There are photo menus along the wall (as well as outside Hanamaru), in English as well as in Japanese, ranging from the most simple concoction, kake udon, to udon with a multitude of pre-chosen toppings, including meats, egg, curry, and seafood.
3. Choose the size you want – small (shou), medium (chuu), or large (dai).
4. Choose hot or cold. The person behind the counter will place the bowl on your tray.
5. You can also have oden, a traditional and delicious Japanese dish usually served in winter. Different vegetables and fishcakes are stewed and stored in a light broth.
6. Add an optional tempura topping – anything from croquettes to vegetables and pork katsu filets!
7. Slide your tray along the counter to the till to pay.
8. Grab a glass and fill it up with ice-cold water from the dispenser, where you will also find a bowl of deep-fried tempura flakes to sprinkle on top of your custom meal. Choose an empty seat at Hanamaru and enjoy!
This entire process at Hanamaru only takes about two minutes.
9. Once you are done, simply take your tray to the nearest collection window and be on your way. Cheerful voices will call after you thanking you and wishing you a good day in Japanese as you walk, belly full, past the rows of salarymen and women alike back into the city sunshine.
Hanamaru Udon will cost you 300-800 yen on average, depending on what toppings you choose!
For an extensive list of all the Hanamaru Udon locations in Japan, click here.