Sydney has a larger Japanese community. There are so many little Japanese cafes, restaurants and chain ones like Menya. My first Menya encounter was Menya Noodle Bar in Haymarket that serves pretty awesome ramen. I prefer Gumshara but my colleagues are skewed towards Menya. I will go back and have another shot and write about it again.
It was twitter to the rescue as I was a little lost for dinner suggestions with @cloudcontrol in town and spending his last evening with us before heading back to Melbourne. It was the second day of New Year so not many decent places were opened. I apologise but I can’t remember which twerp came up with this suggestion of heading to Menya Oiden. Apparently places like this is really popular in Japan. Oiden is the rice version and Mappen, which is just next door, is the noodle version. Let me explain in more details in this post what I mean.
What you need to do at both Menya Oiden & Mappen is the following
- You need to queue to order. Get a drink from the fridge if you need and want one. Get a tray
- Choose the rice dish you like. You can choose to have just plain rice or plain noodles. Or you can choose to have choice of rice or noodle with toppings
- Choose the size of your rice or noodle dish. Usually small or medium
- Once you have received your rice or noodle dish, go to the next zone which you can choose to pick any of the glorious panko crumbed and deep fried food
- There are also options like perfectly poached and googey eggs
- Or if you choose not to have any extras, you can proceed to pay at the counter or hop to the next zone which is more of the side dishes like seaweed, cold tofu or whatever that is in the fridge
- Next zone allows you to top up a bowl of tempura sauce
- Then top up the rice or noodles with spring onions, panko crumbs, sesame seeds, oil or chilli of some sort
- Pick up spoon and chopsticks
- Smile, pay, grab a tissue
- Find a seat & eat
To note, this is not a place to linger and chat. Once you are done, one of the wait staff will approach and grab your tray away. It is a sign for you to leave. The turnover here is really high. Queue, choose, pay, eat, leave.
It is really quite affordable if you do not over order like we do. Mister reckon this chicken topping at Oiden with the soft poached egg is the bomb. I think it’s the teriyaki chicken but may be wrong. Did not pay attention. Sorry!
@cloudcontrol ordered the rice with a salmon topping. He was really unimpressed with this but very happy with his Fuji apple juice! And look at all the deep fried goodies!
I had the beef topping. Also you can just order the plain rice. But I will highly recommend the soft poached egg. Too good and every one is just perfect! The beef was a little bland, the tofu was silky soft and refreshing and the fried chicken was yum!
Between the two, I prefer Menya Mappen. I’ve been back twice. The first time I went, I order the hot udon with a soft poached egg and then just topped with fried goodies. The vegetable tempura was a little past its prime. So just be sure that it is quite freshly deep fried and not been sitting there for awhile . There was no more crunchiness. I do like the chicken tempura. Had it in the second visit as well.
In my second visit, there was a couple of new items on the menu. My colleagues and I ordered the chilli minced beef on udon. I can’t remember what it is called in Japanese. Don’t forget the tempura flakes topping on the way out! And I tried the Fuji apple juice. It is pretty damn good! Great sugar high for the rest of the afternoon at work.
The base noodle or rice is really affordable. Most of them starts at $3.90 for a small portion. The ones with topping might be $4.90 or $5.90 for a small portion. It only adds up when you top up with other smaller dishes like me. But I do love to splurge a little so don’t go crazy like me. Most of my colleagues just got one fried topping and a drink and that is less than $10. But then I do bring my lunch to work at least 3 times a week.
Are you one to over do during lunch or do you restrain on your lunch budget?
Menya Mappen & Menya Oiden
Shop 11, 537 – 551 George Street, Sydney 2000
02 9283 5525