There are plenty of noodle bars in the Sawtelle Japantown neighborhood of Los Angeles many of which serve Ramen. In fact, all the bowls of ramen that I’ve had in long the quarter of a mile strip of Sawtelle Boulevard have been quite appetizing. Marugame Udon & Tempura is the game changer. Marugame Udon adds a plethora of handmade Udon noodle soups and dishes plus a Tempura Bar. I love this place and you will soon love this place too.
My day was pretty aimless. Football season is over and I can now look forward to watching basketball and baseball games on TV. Sawtelle Japantown in West Los Angeles was on my radar for lunch, but I didn’t have an idea of what to eat. Parking on a Monday lunchtime was a breeze in comparison to the weekend vibes where finding a parking space is like finding a needle in a haystack. I got pretty lucky that my street parking spot had 47 minutes already on the meter. Lucky me to only have to tap it out to the maximum of 2-hours. Even better was using the credit card to pay for the parking at the parking meter. A huge convenience. Two hours is just the right amount of time to eat and run a few errands in Sawtelle Japantown.
I headed south, past a couple of Japanese nurseries, and an empty lot that will soon be a new apartment complex or condos. I approached B Sweet and they were closed on Monday. Across the street was Sonoritas, but I wasn’t in the mood to eat Mexican food. I saw Tofu Ya, but I wasn’t in the mood Tofu Soup. The new Tsujita Noodle House was tempting, but still, I wasn’t in the mood to eat Ramen. Big Boi Filipino was closed. I would have easily dined there but closed on a Monday. Bummer. Next door, however, looked promising. It was Marugame Udon. Ah, yes!!!! Marugame is OPEN, OPEN, OPEN on a Monday.
Upon entering the restaurant, you place your order of Udon, the Server expedites your order, and you move along the counter to pick up your order. If you want an Onsen Egg, you get it here too.
The next station is the Tempura Station. You grab a plate and gaze at the variety of fresh made Tempura to add as side dishes to your bowl of Udon. I have this affinity for Tempura. I wanted one of each, but I opted to get my favorites like the Mixed Vegetable, a giant wedge of Zucchini, and Shrimp Tempura. Each piece is like between $1.20 to $1.50. The single portion size is big.
The Musubi Station is a must. Musubi is those handheld triangular Rice and Nori snacks stuffed with fillings like Tuna, Salmon, Crab, or Mentai (Cod Roe), and other good stuff. These snacks are also side dishes to your bowl of Udon. Each piece of Musubi cost around $1.30 to $1.50.
Okay, so you’re probably wondering what I ordered. I am into Japanese pasta dishes so I got something close to it at Marugame, which was a creamy cod roe udon dish called Mentai Udon. This particular dish is not quite a soup and not quite a pasta either, but something in-between. To be exact, the Mentai Udon is pretty much like a Japanese version of Pasta Carbonara that’s overloaded with a velvety cream sauce accompanied with some salted cod roe, parmesan cheese, and crispy bacon. For a little extra cost, I added an Onsen Egg to further develop the creamy consistency and to add a little more color to the cream sauce. A quick stop at the Condiment Bar was needed to add some green onions and red pepper flakes on top. At $9.50 for a large bowl, the Mentai Udon dish gave me instant joy when I ate it and I had plenty of leftovers to take home. If you’ve never tried Japanese pasta dishes, give this one a try. It is a crave-worthy noodle dish.
Heck, yeah! Great dining experience! I like the overall restaurant concept of Marugame Udon and Tempura in Sawtelle Japantown. This dining spot is definitely a fast-casual, counter-style restaurant, which makes it quick to order, eat, and leave within the 2-hour street parking limit. As for the food, it seemed that all the Udon soups and dishes were reasonably priced. The side dishes were also priced just about right. In all, including a Green Tea Lemonade to drink plus a modest tip, I paid about $20 for my lunch, which is just about right for a Japanese food lunch with this high degree of culinary craftsmanship.
$$, Lunch and dinner only. No reservations. Cash and credit card accepted, street parking only. Casual. Great lunch spot.
Marugame Udon and Tempura Bar 2029 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025