Monday, 4 April 2011

Restaurant Review: Menya Mappen, Sydney

I sometimes wonder if I could make my million by importing different food concepts to the UK.

Thailand's food courts or Singapore's hawker centres might be a little full on for London. However, Australia does a good line in westernised food courts. Then there was my ketchup idea. Now I have a new plan - the Japanese noodle shop.

Chatting to my friends in the know, these noodle shops are all the rage with Tokyo's business people. You arrive, pick up a tray, get some noodles and tempura canteen style, find a seat and then return your tray when you are done. The idea being it is a quick and cheap meal on the go. High turnover helps to keep prices down.

How did my first visit to Menya taste? Pretty good I thought.

I ordered the Ontama Bukkake Udon. Thick udon noodles, with a soft poached egg in a bukkake sauce. (I was quite surprised when I Googled bukkake, there seem to be alternate meanings out there!)

I picked up three pieces of tempura to go with my noodles. A seafood stick, sweet potato and chicken tempura. I often think sweet potato tempura is under cooked, but this one tasted pretty good. It was a big serving of chicken for the money.

It was excellent value at everything for under $10.

Would it work in the UK? Probably not is the answer. It only just works as a concept in Sydney's China town.

Nowhere else in the world has the Japanese sense of order. High turnover and an element of self service help keep costs down. Sydneysiders aren't quite as efficient. There are a few signs around asking you not to hog tables and telling you how things work. Perhaps it will take off once the masses are educated.

Even if it won't make me a million I do like knowing that there are cheap and tasty eateries on my doorstep with long opening hours.

Menya Mappen on Urbanspoon


  1. try the vegetable tempura next time and the prawn was pretty good too :-)

  2. Hurry up and come back to London then!!

    Forget banking, we need an Elliot Food Court.

  3. I liked my one and only visit so far to Mappen. I had a beef udon bowl and some tempura. I really liked it. Having travelled to Japan twice and grown up in Cabramatta, I am use to the self-serve, eat & go, clean up after yourself, kind of eating. I don't mind having to put my own dishes away if it means the prices stay reasonable. I wasn't too crazy about the tempura though.

    I visited Kung Fu Ramen in Chinatown and liked it. It is more of a Chinese noodle joint. Josh had a beef stew ramen and I had the Kung Fu Ramen. They were both very good. I liked the beef stew ramen better though.


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