The BFF and I had made a pact to check out Mappen together - a cute little Japanese udon bar. The thing is I just kept walking past whilst on my own, and one day temptation got the better of me and I ducked in to see what all the fuss was about. It was 3pm in the afternoon and I thought a quick second lunch wouldn't hurt anyone...would it?
Since my first clandestine visit I've been back four times...without the BFF! I'm totally addicted, and if I start thinking about a bowl of Mappen udon noodle soup at work I just HAVE to stop by Mappen on my way home for a quick fix. It's not my fault if the BFF works later hours than me is it? No.
Mappen is a canteen style udon/soba noodle bar tucked away in a little arcade on bustling George Street. The concept is self serve - as the instructional poster at the front door advises.
Line up, grab a tray, choose your noodle style (udon or soba; hot or cold; large or small), grab any tempura or extra toppings like Kimchi that your heart desires, pop some tempura crumbs and shallots on top of your bowl of food and pay the smiling cashier. Free water and tempura sauce is available after your pay - so save yourself a few bucks by just drinking water. Service can be a bit slow if they are busy as there is just one person dishing up the noodles - it's worth the wait though. Trust me.
For the purposes of making this post about more than just a bowl of noodles, I try the Tempura Chicken ($1.80) and a small tub of seaweed salad ($0.80). Both of these are so good that I've had it again on subsequent visits. The chicken tempura is mouth wateringly tender, with a crunchy tempura topping.
For the longest time I didn't even know this place existed, and then I kept reading blog post after blog post about it. And now I'm in love. Does my beloved Crazy Wings have some compeition for a place in my heart?
Mappen is at Shop 11, 537-551 George Street (just behind Pepper Lunch), Sydney. Phone them on 9283 5525.