hanamaru udon {はなまるうどん}

11:20 AM Sian Mei Yeoh 0 Comments

one of the most popular chain of restaurants in japan, hanamaru udon or sanuki udon hanamaru is a great addition to join its two counterparts in mid valley - manmaru udon and ori-udon.

specializing in sanuki udon, hanamaru udon shares its japanese-inspired dining space with yoshinoya japanese beef bowl rice, adopting a quick self-service concept. brightly lit in a dining space that is predominantly wood panels created a cozy-like ambiance with accent art pieces on the walls depicting udon noodles and rice bowls. think of a food court offering two japanese food chains. so it is best to get a table before buying your food at the counters.

their philosophy is simple. uncompromising with quality ingredients, the noodles are made fresh daily by using first-grade flour obtained only as much as 60% of finely selected flour, cooked with care and kept no longer than 30 minutes. the broth comes from dried kelp and sardines with an original blend of soy sauce and they understand the significance of water in the taste profile of their every bowl of udon.

sanuki udon hanamaru modus operandi: find an available table in this crowded dining space, have a friend reserve a table, get in line for the noodles, take a tray, choose your udon (from 5 standards, 3 chef specialties, 3 basics or 2 chicken soup based) and also for your friend who is sitting at the table waiting for you, pick favorite side dishes (tempuras & chawanmushi), add on oden or rice ball to your meal, pay at the counter. refillable green tea can be purchased for rm 1.50.

look out for the topping station for chunky bits of tempura batter and shaved carrots on the house. there is also where you will get utensils, shoyu and shichimi togarashi for noodle customization. there is also warm tempura broth, which is a light dashi flavored soup for tempura dipping in flasks.

i've been there thrice and my first time was about a month after its official opening. the tell tale of its popularity is when you find a lot of japanese in line for these freshly made udon.

while in line, you can appreciate the cooks constantly at work, churning out fresh batches of udon noodles. it was a beautiful sight indeed. quick but you'd have enough time to decide what your belly desires.

chicken soup :: spicy miso udon (rm 12.80 for reg)

a handful of freshly made and cooked noodles, served in warm chicken soup,  slightly cloudy. crowned with a halved ajitsuke tamago which is the foundation for both of the chicken soup based udon bowls. the element that differs is the addition of spicy miso with minced meat that becomes the soul of the soup, invoking a different profile from the initial clear and clean flavor of the soup. the spicy miso was sweet but savory and imparted a hint of umami and a mere whisper of spicy kick. mom thought it was more of an acquired taste while i enjoyed the flavor ride on the tastebuds.

the ajitsuke tamago, the soft-boiled egg was almost right but had some room for improvement. texturally, i'd have loved a slightly shorter cooking time for a runnier yolk and white

the noodles were excellent. smooth as i slurped up the noodles to chew onto the lovely textures - soft, chewy and still have the bite and body, cooked to perfection. they were indeed a delightful highlight of the meal.

chef's specialty :: beef udon (rm 12.80 for reg)

a cleaner and lighter broth to feature the thinly sliced beef and strips of abura-age or the deep fried tofu as the side to the udon. the slices of beef was overdone a tad in a lightly sweetened shoyu sauce. the broth could have used more seasoning since it tasted a little flat when i tried only the soup. (p.s. didn't taste the dish as a whole - this was my mom's order)

side dishes :: chicken karaage (rm 5.80)

a skewer of 3 pieces of chicken, it was moist, seasoned well with a tinge of garlic and deep-fried for the browned, cripsy exterior.

side dishes :: pumpkin tempura (rm 3.80)

i've grown to like pumpkin tempura for its natural sweetness and the almost caramelized softness of the cooked through thick slices of pumpkin against the crispy and seasoned tempura batter. unfortunately, hanamaru's tempura needs some extra work on it - the thick batter that coats the tempura seemed to be inconsistent and may or may not be crispy throughout.

for me, the biggest pet peeve is it being too greasy which could quickly impact the crunchiness of the tempura shell. feeling guilty, i stripped its tempura overcoat off the pumpkin so i could just eat the pumpkin only.

sanuki udon hanamaru takes pride in the udon noodles which can be tasted in the texture of the noodles itself. while there were some ups and downs in the consistency, flavor and execution of the broth and side dishes, i have found a mild affinity for the bowl of spicy miso udon.

hanamaru udon | location
t-015b, level 3,
mid  valley megamall,
mid valley city,
59200 kuala lumpur
{opens daily: 11 am - 10 pm}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.