In this article

Team Udon isn’t your average Japanese restaurant. 

This passionate trio is on a mission to make udon the “main star, not just a sidekick”. 

Eric Lim, along with his brother Ivan Lim and his girlfriend Tricia Chan stumbled upon the idea of opening a specialised udon restaurant during a casual meal in an udon shop in Taman Desa. 

They noticed a curious lack of specialised udon restaurants in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, even though ramen shops seemed to be everywhere. 

Their curiosity turned into a deep dive on social media, where they found minimal content about udon in Malaysia. Sensing a golden opportunity, they decided to fill this niche with their own unique twist on the beloved noodle.

Meet the founders

Eric, a branding maestro, has worked wonders for brands like FourPointFive Kombucha and Big Boss HSP. His knack for creating impactful branding strategies and compelling brand stories made him the perfect fit to helm the brand development for Team Udon.

Ivan, with his experience in event planning and media, brings a wealth of knowledge in marketing and content production. His journey from photography to becoming a founding partner of Big Boss HSP and FourPointFive Kombucha has equipped him with the skills to handle Team Udon’s marketing and social media.

On the other hand, Tricia, the creative force behind the Tea Haus Concept, specialises in designing for the food and beverage industry. Her expertise in brand direction and interior design ensures that Team Udon’s vibe is young, modern, and creative, setting it apart from traditional udon shops.

Image Credit: eatwithst3ph & thealleater

The star of the show

“Our goal is to make udon the highlight of our menu, showing off its awesome flavours and versatility,” they told Vulcan Post.

This philosophy is evident in every aspect of Team Udon’s venture—from their unique recipes to their innovative presentations.

Eric, who hails from a small kampung in Pahang and has a love for thick noodles, found the simplicity and daily appeal of udon compelling. Unlike ramen, which demands a rich broth, udon’s versatility means it can be enjoyed even when one is under the weather.

Recognising the limited competition in Malaysia’s udon market, Team Udon took a bold step by blending classic Japanese flavours with local Malaysian tastes. 

Image Credit: Team Udon

“Most udon restaurants stick to traditional Japanese udon, so we decided to take a different approach. By combining classic and local flavours, we aim to differentiate our brand from others,” the team shared.

Their menu features not only traditional udon dishes like Niku Udon and Kitsune Udon but also inventive creations such as Buttermilk Udon and Udon Lemak. The latter is a unique twist on nasi lemak, incorporating sambal, ikan bilis, peanuts, and cucumbers into a delightful udon dish.

“For first-timers who prefer simple and classic udon, we recommend trying either Kitsune Udon, Niku Udon, or Ponzu Wasabi Udon (cold). These options are quite classic and taste great in the dashi broth.”

“If you’re willing to explore local flavours, you must try our Buttermilk and Chilli Crab, both of which are also our best sellers. For the adventurous ones, we recommend trying our Matcha Udon and Udon lemak, which are our proud creations,” said Team Udon.

Image Credit: Team Udon

From concept to reality 

However, opening a restaurant was a new adventure for the trio.

“Our research and development took about two months, with lots of food testing and udon selection to find the perfect taste for everyone. We experimented with different udon types and recipes, tasting sessions, and gathered feedback to refine our dishes,” said Team Udon.

Their branding-driven approach paid off, and they now serve around 4,000 to 5,000 bowls of udon per month.

The founders also believe that like McDonald’s, they can establish their own SOP to ensure consistency and quality in the kitchen.

Image Credit: Team Udon

Team Udon’s business model revolves around three key principles: affordability, accessibility, and efficiency. 

With prices starting from RM10.80 and a convenient location in the heart of KL, the restaurant caters primarily to young working adults. The quick service ensures that even during a busy lunch hour, customers can enjoy a satisfying meal within an hour.

Committed to inclusivity, Team Udon sources all ingredients from halal-certified suppliers and plans to obtain halal certification soon.

“We plan to apply for halal certification after opening our second outlet. We intend to share the love of udon with every race in Malaysia, and obtaining halal certification is a must for us in the future,” they said.

Spreading the udon love

With a team of around 10 staff members, including part-timers, Team Udon runs like a well-oiled machine. They’ve also brought in a head chef to ensure consistency and quality in the kitchen.

Team Udon’s team / Image Credit: Team Udon

The team is already working on opening a second outlet in TTDI in July, with plans to expand the menu to include more udon dishes, side dishes, and beverages. 

Their short-term goal is to establish five outlets by the end of 2025, ultimately aiming to become the No.1 udon chain restaurant in Malaysia.

They added, “We do not plan to offer franchising opportunities but we welcome investors or joint ventures. Our goal is to manage each restaurant ourselves to ensure the integrity of the brand.”

To achieve their ambitious goals, Team Udon is collaborating with media and key opinion leaders (KOL) to raise awareness about udon’s appeal and health benefits. 

By increasing the visibility of udon, they hope to expand the market and attract more customers to their unique dining experience.

  • You can learn more about Team Udon here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Team Udon

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(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)