Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marufuku Udon

2003 was exceptional. It was the year I stayed in Japan for work. During the long breaks, I would travel to different parts of the Honshu island. These exciting trips don't come cheap, of course. Nothing's cheap in Japan, anyway. To ensure that I have enough money to travel, I've devised a plan - economical lunches at work.

Unlike other colleagues, my lunch at the canteen cost a mere 600 yen. Yet, they were filling and rather decent. There were no fancy sides like hijiki or edamame or fried tofu; just a plate of plain curry rice and some udon. In the summer, udon was served cold and topped with chopped scallion and fried tempura bits. During the cold winter days, they came with piping hot shoyu broth and a slice or two of surimi-based ingredients.

Udons come from many different prefectures in Japan. The Sanuki type (from Kagawa) is probably one of the more familiar ones to us in this region. My favourite is the slithery, thin Inaniwa from Akita, which unfortunately is only available at more well-established Japanese restaurants.

I try not to pay too much for noodles like udon because I feel that it's something that I can make at home. Just throw in some bonito flakes and konbu into a pot of hot water and a stock's ready in minutes. The zaru version is even easier to make! And that is why I like Marufuku.

The menu has an element of fusion in it. Okay, so fusion may be too controversial a word, especially in terms of food. Integration then. Instead of chikuwa or crabsticks (shudders) or Hello Kitty-shaped kamaboko (faints), local ingredients like wanton and taufupok (fried beancurd skin) are used. If you ask me, blanched mustard greens sound more practical in udons than to be served with chee cheong fan (flat rice skin rolls) in those fancy dim sum restaurants. A cha (zha) cheong (minced meat stew with vegetables and fermented soy bean paste) topping should work too, and I believe is a hit with the local tastebuds.

For lunch that afternoon, we had the House Special, Curry, Salada and Nabeyaki (Claypot) Udon, along with sides like Kakiage - both the original and pumpkin versions. I should also note that green tea is refillable here. The House Special had the udon pre-mixed with soy sauce and when combined with the broken poached egg, was nice. The curry version came with lots of ingredients like minced meat, onions and diced carrot. Personally, I would have liked the curry sauce more robust in taste, and with a thicker, stickier texture. The ensemble of local ingredients used in the Salada (salad in Japanese) reminded me of a rojak, which is original and interesting. The sesame dressing was not as sweet as those bottled ones sold at the supermarkets, so that's good. Instead of the usual claypot yee mee or chicken rice, give the Nabeyaki a try. For the same price at some foodcourts, this is a refreshing change. A kakiage should be light and not overly soaked in oil. Marufuku's a good reference.

I had 2.5 bowls of udon at Marufuku that afternoon. That says a lot, doesn't it?

On a different note, I'm rediscovering Jaya One. Besides Marufuku, there's also a cafe at another block called The Bee, which looks rather pretty. With delicious cakes (I can be certain of that), ice cream from The Last Polka and a good crowd, I think I'll be visiting again. Soon.

Marufuku Udon
Blk L, Unit 18, Level G, Phase 1
Jaya One
Tel: (+603) 7957 6368

The Bee
Blk K, Unit 2A, Level G, Phase 1
Jaya One
Tel: (+603) 7960 1557

12 comments:

Life for Beginners said...

You make me wanna go work/study in Japan too. Been thinking of it lots lately... :)

J said...

That almost looks like a claypot of bak kut teh! :)
(Mmmmm.. BKT. *craving*)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Nice way to spend a lazy afternoon. :-) Love the Last Polka ice cream at the Bee. They have such nice unusual flavours. Wait till you try their bacon ice cream. :-)

choi yen said...

I think I can simply gobble down 2 bowls of udon by looking at the size of the serving, haha^^

Pureglutton said...

Must be quite an experience - yr time in Japan! Lovely pics as usual :) Makes me wanna slurp noodles now!

qwazymonkey said...

saya pun mahu tinggal dan kerja di jepun untuk sementara waktu. kemudian saya mau pergi new york. pas tu... mungkin pergi paris... kerana orang kat sana banyak holiday... pas tu balik sini retire dan makan mee udon sambil imbas kembali pengalaman di jepun.

UnkaLeong said...

Tried the one we were talking about the other day yet? Man, looks like everyone has been here except me. Must pay it a visit :P

minchow said...

Integration - that's cushioning the Fusion blow alright! Love the sparseness of the first udon pic... the perfect way to slurp!

katCL said...

Like kenny and munky, I oso wan my husband to work in Japan, New York and Paris... ^_^

The slicing skills of chefs at Marufuku is amazing. Just look at the cucumber, carrot and egg shreds!

HairyBerry said...

kenny, and if you do, make sure you travel around the honshu island and beyond! it's fun and delicious. eh, i cakap pasal makan lagi..hehe

j, haha, it's true. maybe marufuku should come up with a bkt version. ok, they dont do pork, but maybe ckt? ;D

lyrical lemongrass, thank you for introducing me to both marufuku and the bee! ;D you got me dreaming of bacon ice cream d....i think it'll go well with a salad. ;D

choi yen, actually, the portions are quite huge...hehehe. do give it a try. and beat my record, ya. ;D hehehehhe.

pureglutton, oh yes, life-changing, if i may say so. ;D glad you liked the pics. give it a try, ya. i think you'll like it. ;D

qwazymonkey, tapi kan, kat jepun, walaupun byk holiday, diorang kerja jugak masa cuti. sebab tu la diorang stress giler kat tempat kerja. sebab tu jugak diorang percaya "kerja keras, main keras"...hehehehe.

unkaleong, i havent tried the ramen shop that you blogged about. but went to another one instead...hehe. die2 must try your recommendation! ;D

minchow, i agree! it was easy to shoot the first pic because it just called out for me. i somehow heard the slurp at the back of my head too...haha!

katcl, woahhhhh! but for me hor, i want to work here and earn more $$$ and travel there. hehe. i agree with you that the cutting skill's pretty good. and i like the fact that they use local ingredients too!

Ken Wong said...

Marufuku@Taylors (http://on.fb.me/marufukutaylors) is now open. This location is very breezy as there is a nice lake next to it. Perfect for a relaxing week nights' dinner and weekends' getaway. We are open daily from 10 to 10. Come and enjoy a simple bowl of udon with the lake view. (We are close on 19th and 26th for minor reno work. Thank you.)

Ken Wong said...

Marufuku@Taylors (http://on.fb.me/marufukutaylors) is now open. This location is very breezy as there is a nice lake next to it. Perfect for a relaxing week nights' dinner and weekends' getaway. We are open daily from 10 to 10. Come and enjoy a simple bowl of udon with the lake view. (We are close on 19th and 26th for minor reno work. Thank you.)