Unusual tempura takes this meal into weird territory.

Lovers of udon will tell you there’s one reasonably priced chain that never disappoints, and the name of that chain is Marugame Seimen. With branches around Japan and even overseas, Marugame Seimen is always looking to take noodles into new and unchartered territories, but their latest creation pushes the boat so far out it’s given rise to a love-it-or-hate-it dish.

The fusion dish is called Rich Cheese and Egg Carbonara Udon, and while that might not sound so surprising at first — noodles and pasta are both made from wheat so it’s not unreasonable to think they can be used interchangeably — looking at the meal will make you do a double take.

▼ The Carbonara Udon is priced at 790 yen (US$5.10).

What’s got people talking is the long piece of tempura inside the bowl, which you wouldn’t normally see in a carbonara. While Marugame Seimen has a wide selection of tempura for diners to add to their meals, they don’t usually serve this particular tempura either, because this is…

▼…bacon tempura.

A slice of deep-fried bacon is an ingredient that will ignite the ire of pasta lovers and noodle purists alike, so we couldn’t resist trying it for ourselves.

▼ It’s not just the bacon tempura that’s unusual — the dish contains kakiage (vegetable tempura) as well.

From the top, it looked like the tempura was the star of the show, but in actual fact, when we tasted it, the cheese and cream sauce was the real hero of the dish.

▼ The runny egg came in third as our favourite ingredient after the cream and melted cheese.

Meiji’s Hokkaido Tokachi Cheese is the type used in the dish, and it melts beautifully in the heat of the broth, imparting a rich and creamy flavour. In fact, it tasted so much like a Western-style carbonara that we ended up adding some soy sauce to bring the flavour over to the Japanese side, to create a better balance with the tempura.

▼ The tempura bacon was weird at first but then tasty, proving anything tastes great when it’s deep fried.

It was an odd combination of ingredients, but because we love cream and cheese as much as we love tempura, we thought this was a fantastic dish. It’s a flavour that people will either love or hate, though, so if you’re willing to take that leap into the unknown and find out which side of the divide you land on, you’ll want to stop by a participating branch, where it’s on the menu for a limited time.

Related: Marugame Udon
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