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Japanese udon chain chooses Vancouver for first Canadian franchise location

A Japanese chain restaurant specializing in udon is set to expand its global reach and has chosen Vancouver for its first Canadian franchised location.

Marugame Udon, which began in 2000 in Japan, is best known for its Sanuki udon, a style of the noodle dish that hails from the Kagawa Prefecture.

The udon is made with wheat flour and the noodles are distinguished by their square shape and flat edges and noteworthy chewy texture.

"Marugame Udon provides hand crafted udon bowls and tempura from a lively open kitchen, allowing guests to watch as their food is prepared," describes the chain's Canadian website.

Since its start over 20 years ago, Marugame has amassed hundreds of outposts across its native Japan, and is now franchised around the globe. The chain, which is known by its company name Marugame Seimen, has over 200 locations spread out globally including in Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Australia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Russia, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Its parent company, the Kobe-based Toridoll, is considered "Japan’s largest noodle shop operator." 

After saturating the Japanese market a few years back, Toridoll began actively seeking other markets for its udon chain. 

A representative for Marugame Udon Canada confirmed that the restaurant is opening in Vancouver and that the location is set for 111 Dunsmuir St, however, no other information was available to share at this time. The Dunsmuir location is a retail space inside the spherical glass office building at Cambie and Beatty.

The Japanese language website Life Vancouver shared the news of the impending arrival of Marugame Udon, and joked (in translation) that the brand's arrival in Canada could mean some new menu items, but "the only things that come to mind are collaborations with poutine and maple syrup." 

While we don't expect udon poutine from Marugame, we can certainly plan on seeing a menu featuring handmade wheat flour udon, served in various iterations. The classic kamaage is served with a broth for dipping, while the kake is udon in a light dashi broth. Udon noodles can also be served in a "BK" sauce, either on its own or loaded with a soft-boiled egg and sweet and savoury beef. Marugame also serves up fresh-fried tempura.

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