Address: Shop 11, 537-541 George Street (inside Sky Plaza)
Opening hours: 11am – 9pm, seven days a week
The recent cold change in Sydney had my friends and I craving hot dishes to warm us up. On a Saturday evening, I met Julie and Sharon in the city for a long anticipated dinner catch up. We arrived at Mappen around 5:30pm, and beat the dinner rush- the restaurant was pretty empty when we arrived, but soon began to fill up quickly.
I’ve eaten at Mappen a few times before, and found that it is one of the most authentic Japanese experiences in Sydney. I’ve eaten at a similar style place in Tokyo, and find that the price range for the quality at these kinds of places are very good. However, it does get busy during weekday lunch times, and dinner. It’s not somewhere that you can linger after eating either, but it’s definitely one of my favourite cheap eats in the city.
When entering Mappen, there is one entrance and one exit. While lining up, there are pictures of the menu offerings located on the windows for you to peruse, as well as a full menu at the entrance of Mappen. Most of Mappen’s menu offerings are under $10, even for a large size, which makes it a great option for people who have a big appetite and don’t want to spend a fortune.
Mappen specialises in udon and soba noodles, and most of their dishes can be served either hot or cold, which is extremely versatile for summer and winter months. They do takeaway, but on the downside, only accept cash.
Another reason why I like Mappen is because they have a wide range of traditional Japanese goodies that aren’t very commonly found in Sydney, such as daifuku and mitarashi dango. IMO the dango here isn’t great, but it’s the only place I’ve seen in Sydney that sells dango.
I can’t remember the exact price of Julie’s dish nor name, but I’m sure it was under $10. It included cold soba noodles with onions, beef, and shallots, which came with a light dipping sauce. The noodles and dipping sauce eaten together were refreshing and tasty, but the beef was a bit dry.
Since my last visit to Mappen, they had since added some new menu items, including a tonkotsu range. Tonkotsu ramen is my favourite kind, and I had never heard of tonkotsu udon or soba before, let alone knew it existed, so when I heard about it, I knew I had to get here ASAP. I had the regular size Tonkotsu Udon ($5.90) with Fish Cake Tempura ($1.90). The udon noodles were the perfect texture, chewy and soft, with a thick, hearty soup. I finished every drop. The fish cake tempura was cooked well without being oily, and had a springy, chewy texture with mild flavour.
I didn’t try the Bukkake Ontama Mentaiko Udon, having eaten it on a previous occasion, although Sharon enjoyed it and had no complaints. All in all, Mappen is a favourite with my friends and I due to its convenient location, cheap pricing and overall good quality.