Not owning a car sucks. You know why it sucks? It sucks because when you see restaurants in say, Kingsford, that you want to visit, you have to either take a bus or not get to go at all.
Oh, and I hate taking the bus.
So when I found out that there was a Manpuku conveniently located in Chatswood, I just knew that I had to go get my ramen on.
Miso, $14.90 + $3
Miso based pork and chicken stock, bamboo shoot, pork belly, seaweed sheet, shallots and egg + spicy bomb and extra egg
Soy based tokotsu sour dipping soup, with softened pork rib, bamboo shoot, egg, ultra seaweed sheet and shallots
Okonomi stick (Musashi), $5.90
2 skewers of Japanese and seafood pancake, mayonnaise, powdered seaweed bonito flake and Japanese BBQ sauce.
Manpuku mini rice bowl, $3.90
Pork belly, mushed egg, bean sprouts, shallots, sesame, mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce.
Manpuku runs like a well-oiled machine, and the food comes out hot and fast. Every bowl looks exactly like the picture in the menu, and they’re clearly hitting all the marks like seasoned performers.
The Okonomi Stick is a must-order if you like Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake). Tender pancake is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and topped with bonito flakes, mayonnaise and Japanese BBQ sauce. AND IT’S ON A STICK!! Extra awesome.
The Miso ramen featured a rich miso pork and chicken stock, with wafer thin slices of rolled pork belly, menma (pickled bamboo shoots) and ni-tamago (soy marinaded egg). I strongly recommend getting the Spicy Bomb – a ball of chilli flavoured paste gets stirred into the soup, pushing that rich flavour over the edge…of absolute GLORY.
The Tsukemen was lighter than I’m used to – all the Tsukemen I’ve had in the past involved noodles dipped in a gravy-like sauce, and here, the sauce was more soup-like. Much less intense in flavour, but on the upside, I’m not left constantly reaching for water to wash down all the salt. Oh, and the Softened Pork Rib! Tender fibres of pork meat is layered with unctuous collagen and fat, because nature knows what she’s doing, and Manpuku knows just how to treat it.
So. Freaking. Delicious.
We tried the Manpuku mini rice bowl, partially because it’s so darned cheap! If I was dining alone and wanted something light, I do think that the mini bowls can function as an actual meal. The mushed egg in the Manpuku bowl added an odd sort of graininess, and I’m not quite sure that it worked with the blanched bean sprouts. Not my cup of tea, but still cooked well regardless.
When we had to write down our names on a clipboard, I thought that we were in for a long wait. Apparently not. We weren’t even 5 minutes in and we were ushered to a table, complete with menus. They were efficient and speedy without being invasive, and never have I felt like I was in more competent hands.
But just when they seemed like they might be professional to the point of being rigid, they came through for me. Washoku card holders get a free drink with their meal (have I mentioned how much I love free shizz?), and it just so happened that I left my card at home. Our waitress very nicely said that if I could show her my login screen on my phone, then she’d put through the deal for me.
How nice is that?!
They were also extremely thoughtful about things like cutlery, and reinforced the feeling that we were being very well looked after.
Value for money:
Considering that we basically had enough food to feed three people comfortably (or in this case, 2 very greedy people), I was quite surprised to see that our bill was only slightly over $40. At an average of $15 a pop, the ramen can be considered on the pricey side, but for the absolute monster portions, and food so lovingly laboured over, you’d be hard pressed to find better value for money elsewhere in Sydney.
Oh and for the extra greedy of us (sometimes a girl’s just gotta eat!), there’s also kaedama starting at $1.50 for a half serve. It’s basically the option to order more noodles for your leftover soup, because God forbid you should leave Manpuku hungry! ?
I quite like how Manpuku straddles the fine line between no-nonsense and well, whimsical, for lack of a better word. Everyone goes about their business with fantastic efficiency, but the whole restaurant is decorated with hanging ropes and stained wood.
And when I say the whole restaurant, I do mean all of it, including the toilet. Yes, there is a giant wooden ship-shaped sculpture in the toilet, with rope and jaunty plastic flowers and a touch of glitter, just for Christmas.
Have a look when you go. Go on.
Also, don’t let the constant chorused yelling scare you. Besides the expected “irashaimase!” (Welcome) when you walk in the door, there is also a specific call-and-answer type war cry (for lack of a better word) that comes straight from the kitchen. Have no idea what it is, but I quite like the enthusiasm of it all.
I’m so glad I’ve finally ticked Manpuku off the Eat List. It checked all the boxes for me – food quality, value for money, service – and I can’t wait to go back for a lunchtime treat. The only downside is that because they’re so specialised in doing ramen well, they don’t have many options for other foods, meaning that you can only go with other ramen lovers like yourself.
But those are the best people anyway, right? ?