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Noodle chain set to open in Russia

Kyodo

An Kobe-based “udon” chain is about to open its first noodle shop in Moscow as it ventures into Europe.

Although Russia is said to be a tough market to crack for foreign companies because of bureaucratic red tape and business practices unique to the country, Toridoll Corp. says it aims to open 100 outlets in Russia by the end of 2017.

On Friday, Toridoll will open Marugame Seimen in the Russian capital to see if it can reproduce the noodle chain’s success in Japan. It already has shops in China, South Korea, Thailand and the United States.

Masahiro Ikemitsu, 46, president of Toridoll LLC (Russia), points to Moscow’s population, the largest among the major European cities, and Russia’s relatively high economic growth.

Ikemitsu said that as the sushi boom dies down in Russia, consumers are expected to embrace noodles. “I hope Russians will enjoy the authentic taste of udon noodles,” he said.

Similar to the Marugame Seimen outlets in Japan, the Moscow outlet will be a self-service store where customers will be able to watch the thick noodles being made and cooked.

To suit local tastes, it will also serve dishes not on its menus in Japan, such as sushi rolls, “tonkatsu” (fried pork cutlets), and curry and rice. The prices will be around the same as those charged at common fast food restaurants.