27 November 2010

Menya Mappen: Sydney's first self-serve genuine Udon restaurant, Japanese (18, 24 Nov 2010)

Shop 11, 537-551 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

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)

Zaru Soba served with wasabi, chopped seaweed and dipping Tsukedashi soup ($4.90 small)

Ontama Bukkake Udon Hot ($4.90 small)

Beef Ramen ($6.90 small) with egg ($1.50)

Fishcake tempura ($1.90), Shrimp and vegetable kakiage tempura ($3.30)

Vegetable kakiage tempura ($2.80)

Visit #1 – 24 Nov 2010
Gyu Don: Beef Don ($6.90 small size), Mini Beef Don served with rice and Sukiyaki wagyu beef ($4.90) with ontama ($1.50)

Mini Beef Don served with rice and Sukiyaki wagyu beef ($4.90) with ontama ($1.50)

Sweet potato tempura ($0.80)

Vegetable kakiage tempura ($2.50) — Second visit seems to be smaller and slightly cheaper

Sausage tempura ($1.90), Prawn tempura ($2.50)

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

Miso soup $1.50, Tempura sauce is free

Wall seating with a poster view

Tray return

Free water

Trading hours

Japanese movie posters


thang @ noodlies said...

Yum! We wanted to get in last week but the queue was too long so we wen to Pepper Lunch instead.. it was ok, but looks like Mappen is heaps better

BGDino said...

Looks yummy, I just might have to check it out!

Madam Wu said...

I should've taken a bite from my sweet potato tempura so you could see the bright yumminess poking out! I'm trying to beef ramen next time.

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Ohh I love tempura! But that's the first time I've seen a sausage tempura!

Simon Leong said...

hi thang, it's worth waiting in line. it doesn't take too long and goes pretty fast unless your really rushed for time. hope you get to Mappen to try next time.

hi bgdino, i think you'll have to check it out soon.

hi madam wu, i was thinking that too. next time. :-)

hi angie, if you love tempura then this is the place for you and the sausage tempura is pretty tasty so worth trying at least once :-)

Miss Feathers said...

I followed your advice and checked it out last night Simon. I have to say that I loved it! Perfect for a quick bite to eat with just 2 people. Yum!

Simon Leong said...

hi miss feathers, glad you found the time to check it out. i went last week and it wasn't as busy as usual which was great so it was easy to get a seat during lunch time. the size of the tempura vegetables was huge this time around :-)

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