Normally, I’m not a big fan of fast food chain restaurants, with one exception – Hanamaru Udon. If you like thick wheat flour noodles (udon) and tempura at dirt cheap prices, this is the place for you. The wife and I usually stop by once a week and here’s why.
Speedy Service: Every time I have gone into the restaurant, within 3 minutes I’m at my seat munching away. They have a self-service assembly line – similar to a school cafe – where you can pick from a variety of drinks, salads, tofu, rice balls, and tempura. Once you pick your side items, you order the type of udon you would like and they serve it up on your plate within 30 seconds. Then you pay the cashier and seat yourself. Very efficient.
Variety: The variety of udon dishes and tempura are pretty substantial. There must be about 18 different tempura options (from veggies to meat to seafood) and at least a dozen ways of how you want your udon served up. You pick which tempura you like from a tray area pictured to the right. For the udon options, there are pictures available, so if you don’t speak Japanese, just point to what looks appetizing.
Very Inexpensive: On average, the wife normally walk out of the meal for less than 1000 yen (about US$12), and that is for the both of us. This includes a bowl of udon and maybe two to three side items for each person.
Quality: As cheap as your meal will cost, you would think they would compromise on the quality. However, this is not the case, and although it won’t be top of the line ingredients, you don’t feel you are getting anything substandard either.
Somewhat Healthy: Although the fried tempura is probably not the healthiest thing in the world, they do have veggie items. So if you stick with some simple udon noodles and pair it with a salad, tofu and no more than one or two veggie tempura items, it seems to digest well without any over bloated feeling.
So if you live in Japan or come here to visit and are on a limited budget – or just looking for a quick bite to eat, you can’t go wrong slipping into one of Hanamaru’s fast food outlets to satisfy your hunger pangs – highly recommended.