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By Trond Alund. November 18, 2013 - 8:45 am
A new, but not unknown restaurant has entered the diverse selection of cuisines at Fort Street Mall. HPU students and business elites alike showed up at the opening of Marukame Udon in the downtown area.
Marukame, as the franchise is more commonly referred to, has been a successful recipe in Waikiki as tourists from all over the world gather in line every night to get a taste of the Japanese culture.
Many of the students here at HPU live in Waikiki, and both locals and international students had positive reactions regarding the expansion to our beloved Fort Street.
It is noon on a normal Wednesday – students are on their lunch break, business directors and colleagues, as well as police officers and others, are standing in line 30 feet outside the entry door, eagerly awaiting the aroma they can smell from a distance.
The variety of entrées are even better than in Waikiki, prices are about the same, if not cheaper, and the dining area is more packed during lunch.
Marukame offer dine-in and take out options, and the staff is extremely busy taking orders and preparing orders.
With beaming energy and shouts echoing inside the kitchen area, chefs and cashiers work closely together to get orders out as fast as they can.
The take-away line moves quickly, much to the customer’s joy. The time from delivering their order to having their food ready to go is about 10 minutes tops.
Marukame is truly a good alternative for our HPU students. A normal lunch, which fills you up, costs around $5 or $6. And with the amount of food you get it is worth both the wait and money.
I tried the Teri Chicken Bowl, a hot dish with savory chicken and rice in sweet teri sauce on the side. Absolutely delicious.
Other favorites include the Kake Udon, Curry Udon and Spicy Shabu Pork Salad Udon.
I could hear the cashier repeating those sentences over and over again, even though I do not know many Japanese phrases.
The building itself is more modern than the typical restaurants and cafés we are used to at Fort Street. Placed on the corner across from McDonald’s, at Hotel and Fort Street.
People walking by me, coming from the bus as we wait in line, all turn their heads toward us. I am guessing they want to try it, and a couple even walked to the tail of the line.
Marukame seems to have the opening Fort Street Mall and its inhabitants have been hoping for. People come in and out at all times of the day: they order, eat their food and walk out with satisfied expressions.
No exceptions, at least not today. And even though the dine-in area is more café-like in terms of size, there was room to sit down and relish the food on my table.
If you have not stopped in yet, I strongly recommend you do. Above-average food and low prices fit the budget of college students.
Would you go? You should!
Photos by Trond Alund