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Menya Mappen Noodle Bar @ Sydney

Home > Sydney > Takeaway | Lunch | Food and Wine | Dinner | Cheap
by GiGi GMV (subscribe)
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Published April 3rd 2014
Self-serving Tempura Bar
We had a fairly busy day and we are in need of a quick and delicious nourishment.

We don't need to look any further than Mappen - a no-frill, authentic Japanese noodle bar specializing in udon and soba. It is secretly tucked inside of a shopping centre on George Street, once you find it, you would never let go of this secret dining gem.

Their cheap n cheerful prices are hard to beat in this prime CBD neighborhood. It is ridiculously popular with students, tourists and nearby office workers.

Mappen offers the perfect meal solutions to those who are on a tight budget. Base noodle bowl starts from $2.90 only.

The highlight here is you can customize your meal. You make the call. There is no judgment here but you need to exercise self-control.

You can get all these for under $15.

Once you are inside, you will think you've been transported back to Japan. This noodle bar is fitted with dark wood interior and the wall is plastered with aged Japanese movie posters and calligraphy. The whole atmosphere is fun and social, strangers can become friends over a bowl of udon.

Soft Japanese opera-esque or kabuki-style music played in the background. It is equally suitable to dine alone and read your iPad.

They offer a wide variety of hot and cold noodle dishes and you do need sometime to work through the entire menu.

Once you have decided, place your order at the counter and watch the staff cook your noodle to al dente. Then they will place your noodle bowl on a tray, then you can proceed to the alluring moreish tempura self-serve bar.

The highlight of this place undoubtedly is this tempura bar.

All I can say is proceed with caution.

It is a path where you will battle with your inner demons.

Tempura in all forms and sizes warmly invite your taking.
There are agedashi tofu, takoyaki, sweet potato tempura, white fish tempura, fish cake stick and sausages plus much more. They are all freshly deep-fried, looking crispy and moreish.

It takes a lot of self-restraint and not go crazy at the tempura bar. You can of course pile up all your favourite tempura and eat to your heart's content. I mean, where can you find good tempura for under $3?

If you want to balance out the grease, check out the fridge bar for some Japanese mini side dishes.

Before you reach the cash register at the end of the canteen line. Help yourself freely with the thinly chopped vibrant green shallots and tempura batter flakes. They are the perfect garnish topping to any Japanese noodles.

Today, we've got the Bukkake Ontama Mentaiko Soba ($6.60), Prawn Tempura ($2.80); a Vege Kakiage ($2.50), a mixed Mushroom ($1.00) and Grated Radish ($0.90).

As you can see, each single unit is inexpensive, but they do add up. You are the designer for your own meal and you can budget it accordingly.

These are our favourite tempura dishes. The vegetable kakiage tempura got to be our No.1 favourite. It is a giant fist-sized ball of mixed vegetable strips and deep-fried to golden. It is quite a visual feast and definitely a must-order for the first timers.

We normally dunk the 'Vegetable Tempura' bomb into the noodle soup. Watch it disintegrate and instantly add crunch, flavour and depth to a mere simple soy-based udon noodle soup.

Of course, we can't go past the beautiful golden prawn tempura.

We absolutely adore this cold soba noodle with concentrated udon soy sauce. It is accompanied with chilli cod roe butter and a half boiled egg.

The egg deserves a special mention. When you placed your order, the staff will crack a soft wobbly half-boiled egg straight from the egg shell. Watch it curdle in the warm soup, break it and let the running yellow yolk drool all over the noodle. It is just sensational. What more do you want?

It is a smallish noodle bar, seating is quite limited. You will have some problems finding a seat if you come during the peak hours. Take away is an option, but Mappen do charge a $0.90 container fee.

Overall, this a really good, cheap 'n' cheerful casual Japanese dining. It's simple, delicious food done really well.

Repeat visit: Very High.
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Why? Authentic cheap and delicious Japanese noodle bar
When: 11.30am - till late
Phone: (02) 9283 5525
Where: 537-551 George Street Sydney NSW 2000
Cost: Under $10
Your Comment
my mistake in previous comment - yes mappen is the noodle place on the left as you walk in from George St - next door on the right is same owner oiden for rice - both good and cheap - we tend to look at both and decide based on which has the shorter queue ... meh - haven't been there since - last week !
by ultim (score: 2|424) 2364 days ago
I more often eat cold soba from the adjacent Japanese (same owner) place - when I feel like something warmer the teriyaki chicken on rice from Mappen is usually very satisfying.
by ultim (score: 2|424) 2370 days ago
just found this again - still go there - a tip - a common mistake first time visitors made is minding a seat while their friend orders the food - don't do that !

the system (with signs on the tables) is although the tables may look full when you walk in - by the time you come out of the race with your tray, some of those will have left and there will be free seats.

If you 'mind some seats' you will clog the flow of people looking for a seat now - which creates a nuisance. I know it's unusual - but it works - trust it - and don't break the rules - they tell you this on the table signs !

Oh - and last time I was there recently - I noticed - so many people walked in the middle door without reading the 'entrance left' arrow sign - that now they have opened the rope - so those who do walk in the middle door can see and walk left to join the queue on the left.
by ultim (score: 2|424) 1798 days ago
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