Cheap noodles and tempura
A little slice of Japanese seems to have arrived on George Street inside the Skyview Shopping Plaza next door to Pepper Lunch and 85ºC Bakery. Its popularity is quickly evident as you step inside and see the busy lunch time devotees of mostly Asian heritage snaking from the tempura station past the noodle cooking pots and through the restaurant in an orderly manner. As a first timer the long wait in the queue will allow you to work out what you'll want to order amongst the many tempting options. Seating doesn't seem to be too much of a problem as meals don't take too long to eat and by the time you have your tray of food there should be some seating available — although it would be hard to find a table for a large group to sit together. Once your finished just return your trays to the cleaning station to allow for other customers to find a seat.
On my first visit I try the obligatory cold version of Zaru Soba ($4.90 small) which comes in a bowl on top of a bamboo drainage tray. It has a light healthy flavour but I prefer my hot version of Ontama Bukkake Udon ($4.90 small) which comes with a perfect half boiled egg to add some protein richness to the udon noodle soup. To help fill out the meal I go for the tempting Vegetable kakiage tempura ($2.80) which is mostly shredded onion and cooked to a nice crispy texture. It can be a little hard to pull apart if you're intending on sharing and perhaps a little oily but still worth trying. The Beef Ramen ($6.90 small) with egg ($1.50) has a nice depth of flavour which I'd happily try again. Fishcake tempura ($1.90) isn't my favourite today and the Shrimp and vegetable kakiage tempura ($3.30) has the added ingredient of small prawns but the prawn taste isn't particularly strong and is overpowered by the oniony vegetable tempura.
On my second visit I try the Mini Beef Don ($4.90) served with rice and Sukiyaki wagyu beef. Even though it's a mini size it might be enough for some as a small light lunch combined with an egg aka ontama ($1.50) and some Vegetable kakiage tempura ($2.50) which seems to have gone down in price by 30 cents but the serving size actually seemed a little smaller as well. The Beef Don ($6.90 small size) has the same ingredients as the mini but just more of it. I think it's probably enough combined with some tempura of your choice to fill you up. The Sweet potato tempura ($0.80) is a good choice which combines the goodness of sweet potato to counteract the fattiness of tempura. Wanting to try everything I order a Sausage tempura ($1.90) and Prawn tempura ($2.50) this time. I prefer the prawn one with its perfectly cooked crispy light tempura and the prawn has retained some its flavour and is decently sized.
Other food blog reviews:
PROS: Friendly service, Reasonably priced, Lots of noodle and tempura options, Quite authentic, Orderly system for ordering and seating
CONS: No public toilets available even though signs point to them around the corner — they're locked, Queuing can take a while when busy, Hard to get a table for a large group
MUST TRY: Ontama Bukkake Udon Hot, Vegetable kakiage tempura, Prawn tempura
Visit #1 – 18 Nov 2010
Zaru Soba served with wasabi, chopped seaweed and dipping Tsukedashi soup ($4.90 small), Ontama Bukkake Udon Hot ($4.90 small), Zaru Soba served with wasabi, chopped seaweed and dipping Tsukedashi soup ($4.90 small)
Gyu Don: Beef Don ($6.90 small size), Mini Beef Don served with rice and Sukiyaki wagyu beef ($4.90) with ontama ($1.50)
6 steps to eating happiness
Free toppings — pile it on but you only get one scoop
Tempura bain-marie — choose your sides wisely
Extra sides and toppings
Wall seating with a poster view