In July, my family and I went on vacation to Hawaii. While I had been to Maui before, I had never been to the island of Oahu, which is home to the state capital of Honolulu. I was super stoked to watch surfing competitions, lounge on Waikiki Beach, and snorkel in the world-famous Hanauma Bay. When we got there, the first thing I did was get on Trip Advisor and check the top restaurants -- duh. Being able to eat the diverse and delicious foods in a new location is the best part! Luckily, one of the top ten rated restaurants in Honolulu was right across the street from my hotel. Hungry and tired from my 12+ hours of flying, I was super excited to get moving and fill my belly. 

For those of you that don't know, udon is a type of thick noodle made of wheat that can be served hot or cold. In traditional Japanese cooking, it is combined with flavored broth, vegetables, and some form of meat or tofu. 'Marukame Udon' in Waikiki is famous for their dishes in Hawaii and beyond, and the line for the restaurant was nearly wrapped around the building at 3 p.m. However, after seeing the reviews and certificate of excellence online, I figured it would be worth the wait. 

It was. 

Jenna Pierson

The restaurant is styled like a cafeteria line, with you choosing your type of udon, your size of regular or large, and then finishing with a wide array of tasty tempura and drinks available for purchase. You are then able to sit at tables or plush little booths. I chose the hot 'Niku Udon' (pictured above,) which had a light broth and noodles combined with sweet beef, green onion and tempura crunch. The noodles were soft and filling -- you were actually able to watch them be molded and cooked in the front window of the restaurant! The beef was very flavorful and the broth was complimentary in its mild saltiness and blend of spices. Finally, the tempura crunch prevented the dish from becoming too soggy and the green onion added a bit of earthiness. It was delicious! 

The tempura selection was fantastic too. You could choose from a wide selection of deep fried and battered poultry, beef, vegetables or seafood as a side for your meal or to add to your udon. I chose shrimp tempura and it was crunchy and fresh! They also offered Spam on top of rice, (which is apparently a Hawaiian favorite but I was unwilling to venture in that direction.) 

Ultimately, I would give Marukame Udon an 8/10. The food and flavor was authentic and delicious, the atmosphere was vibrant and the workers were very friendly. Also, the portions were satisfying and the prices were acceptable for the quality and quantity. Due to the popularity of the restaurant, a larger space would be ideal to accommodate customers and to create less stress for my fellow claustrophobics. I would 100% have gone back, but the line was almost always long for the rest of my vacation. Now that is how you know that it must be worth the hype. For locals and tourists alike, Marukame is a must.

Want to drool some more? Check out their menu: