"Heaven...I'm in Heaven...And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak..."
Berlin, I. (1935) Cheek to Cheek
I do believe that I have found noodle heaven for foodies on a budget! I know I'm a little (or a lot!) late to the scene, but Mappen is an absolute dream come true in its simplicity.
The concept is simple. Decide what main you'd like to have, order, add sides (or not!) and pay. It's so simple it's almost poetic in my book.
The place is always busy, and gives a feel of a cramped, bustling noodle bar, but I assure you that efficiency beats so strongly at the heart of it that you won't be put out. They feed you with such conveyor belt-type flow that it feels like the perfect place for a eat-and-run lunch.
Signs on every table encourage you not to grab tables without food, but that almost-counter-intuitive move - for what if I should have a tray full of food and no seat? - near-guarantees you a seat when you do have your food.
Since people only sit when their order is ready, their time with the table starts immediately, eradicating the "dawdle while deciding" crowds that seem to happen otherwise. The result, you get your food, you get fed, you leave.
And the food? Amazing. Laura and I had an early lunch there earlier this week.
I had a hot Ontama Bukkake - don't snigger! I know you people ;) - with Udon, and Laura had the Soba version.
It's basically noodles in soup. It's that simple. We had a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top, and a creamy, dreamy soft boiled egg.
Look at all that eggy goodness. /drools
The savoury noodles had the citrusy zing of lemon threaded through the strands, and oozy yolk giving them a bright orange coating.
And those sides?
Well I got a Prawn Tempura.
No surprises, no fireworks, just what you would expect - crispy batter, and prawn that isn't overcooked. It's lunch that makes you feel good after - not weighed down, not still wanting - and for me anyway, brightens my day.
Oh, and I haven't mentioned the price have I? My Ontama Bukkake was a regular size and was $4.90! Friggin' $4.90 lunch IN THE CITY! That's partially what gets me so excited about the place. Are the portions overflowing? No. But they are good value - I chose the Prawn Tempura ($2.50) cause I was greedy, but I could very well do without. Sean's favourite - Sweet Potato Tempura - is only $0.80, and while I've considered making it at home, I think it's well worth the price if you are in the city and need some hot food.
Mappen is somewhere that consistently gives me a good, cheap option (I'm not a fan of fast food) smack in the middle of the city. One downside though, it's not exactly a great source of your 5-fruit-and-veg, since the veggie options are either small or battered and fried. I just bring fruit with me to munch on during the day, and have that while walking to my next destination.
We ate at:
11/537-551 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 5525
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