K and I recently visited Menya Mappen after a joint date with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service where we both donated blood. Talk about a romantic date night! We were in definite need of a large satisfying meal to set us straight on our feet after donating nearly half a litre of blood each, and Menya Mappen down the road from the blood centre really delivered the goods.
Menya Mappen is a self-service udon bar in the heart of Sydney, drawing on what is apparently an growing trend in Japan. Apparently the self-service udon bar industry in Japan grew by 5% in 2011 – there’s clearly a trend here that reflects our society’s preference for faster and cheaper service.
Joining the cafeteria line, we chose two cold drinks, two large bowls of ontama bukkake udon, three tempura prawn, two tempura sweet potato slices, tempura sliced onion, takoyaki, and a picked veggie rice ball – for the cheap price of $35AUD for the both of us!
The ontama bukkake udon was beautifully tasty, especially with the half boiled egg on top (the ontama). The egg was really done well, with the perfect blend of runny white and semi-solid yolk.
The tempura was more hit and miss – while the sweet potato was done quite well with a light covering of tempura batter, the prawns were a different matter. Good tempura has minimal batter, but the tempura prawn was pretty much 50/50 prawn to tempura batter. I had to pick off a lot of batter for the prawn so that it would actually taste any good.
The takoyaki was lukewarm, which really affected its flavour. Takoyaki tastes best when it’s fresh off the pan, not when it’s been sitting on a heated buffet for close to an hour. Lucky I’ve recently purchased a poffertje pan for the cheap price of $9AUD so I might be able to experiment with making takoyaki in a poffertje pan at home.
I would rate Menya Mappen a 7 out of 10. It really is amazing value and with the tastiness of the noodles the restaurant really deserves that rating. The tempura really let it down though and has cost it quite a few points.