drive-thru noodle restaurant Japan ramen Marugame Seimen store Shibukawa City through Gunma Prefecture Japanese food news review taste test photos

This unique branch of Marugame Seimen even has an exclusive menu for drivers.

On 22 June, the nation’s first Marugame Seimen drive-through store opened in Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture. Gunma is somewhat famous for being known as Japan’s “drive-through kingdom“, because the number of privately owned cars and license holders are said to be amongst the highest in Japan, resulting in a number of drive-throughs at pharmacies, dry cleaners, pharmacies and even opticians in the area.

However, a drive-through Marugame Seimen was totally unheard of until now, and it was a gobsmacking sight for our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma when he visited.

▼ This branch of Marugame Seimen, with its open-top car on the signboard, is not like the others.

Marugame Seimen is Japan’s most popular udon restaurant chain, and it even has branches overseas in cities like London. At this unique branch, though, you can choose to either eat-in or order and receive noodles from the comfort of your car.

When you use the drive-through, food is freshly served after ordering so you don’t have to worry about receiving a product that’s been sitting around for a while in a package on a shelf. And what’s more, the drive-through offers an exclusive menu  (“限定メニュー”) that you won’t find at other stores.

Making the drive-through even more convenient is the fact that it opens at 9 a.m., two hours earlier than the eat-in area, which opens at 11 a.m. On the day it opened, a lineup of 15 cars queued up for the drive-through before opening time, so it’s safe to say that this branch made a spectacular debut in the drive-through kingdom of Gunma.

When Masanuki arrived at 10:30 a.m. there were only three or four cars in line, so he had a good amount of time to peruse the menu that staff handed to him when he arrived.

Masanuki ordered the drive-through-only Cold Corn Pota Udon (490 yen [US$3.41]) — only on the menu until mid-July — and the Chicken Teri Mayo Udon Bento Manpuku Set (880 yen), which comes with a drink and a side dish.

After receiving his order at the window, Masanuki exited the drive-through, and as he did he noticed just how large the branch was, with 48 spaces — three times the usual number — in the carpark, and seating for 62 inside. As the only udon chain store in Shibukawa, it’s certainly set up to accommodate a lot of customers.

▼ Masanuki, however, took his meal to the highway service area, so he could enjoy it with a view.

Rubbing his hands with excitement at the feast before him, Masanuki poured the enclosed broth on the noodles in his bento, to create a bukkake udon, and gave it a good mix with his chopsticks.

After his first slurp of the noodles, Masanuki was hooked, and unable to lower his chopsticks for a second. The rich, sweet and salty flavours were irresistibly appetising, and the chicken was absolutely delicious.

The Chilled Corn Pota Udon was packed in a “Shake Udon” cup, which Masanuki knew to shake before eating, having tried one previously in the office.

▼ This corn potage flavour was exclusive to the drive-through, so he was keen to try it.

He could smell the rich aroma of corn potage soup as he took his first slurp, which was cold and delicious. The noodles were smooth while the corn was chewy and the croutons crunchy, creating a great combination of flavour and textures that Masanuki thoroughly enjoyed.

As for the tempura potatoes he’d ordered on the side, these too were delicious. Topped with sea lettuce and shredded seaweed, they were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and so tasty that Masanuki wished he’d ordered another lot to enjoy later.

Everything he ordered tasted fantastic, and the drive-through experience added such a fun aspect to the meal that Masanuki wanted to drive back and do it all again. Here’s hoping they open up more drive-through branches around Japan, because with food this good, everyone will gladly drive their cars there!

Store information
Marugame Seimen Shibukawa / 丸亀製麺 渋川店
Address: Gunma-ken, Shibukawa-shi, Shibukawa Shimogo 1197
Open 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.; drive-through 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.

Related: Marugame Udon
Photos ©SoraNews24
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