It’s the eternal question for any Asian. Rice or noodles?
Well, now you have to make that decision even before you reach for a menu because Menya Oiden (which specialises in rice bowls and kushiage) recently opened up next to the ever so popular Menya Mappen (which specialises in noodles and tempura).
I’m a massive fan of both.
Here’s why –

Menya Mappen - how to enjoy diagram

The concept behind both these eateries is a Japanese style self-serve canteen. The above photo features a banner which illustrates the six steps:

  1. Get yourself a drink from the fridge.
  2. Grab a tray and choose from the noodles and rice menu (if you’re really hungry, go for the large size).
  3. Help yourself to some toppings (chef’s suggestion – tempura is delicious on top of udon)
  4. Take your meal to the cashier.
  5. Find a seat and enjoy! There’s self serve water if you want.
  6. When you’re done, return your tray.

It’s quick and hassle-free and is the perfect lunch or dinner for when you crave serious comfort food.

Menya Mappen - menu

The menu at Menya Mappen features many styles of udon and soba and the odd rice bowls. But the highlight of any visit is the tempura bar.
The vegetable kakiage tempura ($2.80 each) is a giant fist-sized ball of mixed vegetable strips, deep-fried. There’s also prawn tempura ($2.50), chicken breast tempura ($1.80), pork sausage tempura ($2), sweet potato tempura ($0.80), fish cake tempura ($1.90) and more!
Right beside the cash register at the end of the canteen is a miso soup dispenser and containers of thinly chopped spring onion and tenkasu (bits of tempura batter) which you can add by the spoonful.

Menya Mappen - tempura and noodles canteen

My favourite thing to order is the ontama bukkake udon. Available in regular ($4.90) or large ($5.90), and hot or cold, it’s a light and refreshing way to eat udon. It is served with a wedge of lemon, a creamy half-boiled egg and a splash of tsukedashi soup.

Menya Mappen - ontama bukkake udon

Menya Mappen - soft boiled egg

Meanwhile, right on the other side of Menya Mappen is Menya Oiden, the latest creation from I’s Holdings, which also manages Rengaya, Suminoya, Koh-ya, the Menya noodle bars and Menya Mappen.
Rice dishes available at Menya Oiden includes the Oroshi beef bowl ($5.90 regular / $7.90 large) which is sukiyaki beef and ponzu infused grated radish on rice, ontama yakitori bowl ($6.90 regular / $8.90 large) that is grilled chicken and ontama on rice and Japanese curry with rice ($3.90 regular / $5.90).

Menya Oiden - menu

Similarly to Menya Mappen, side dishes and condiments at Menya Oiden are aplenty. There’s chicken stew with vegetables ($2.50), marinated deep fried eggplant ($2.50), potato salad ($1.50), spinach with sesame sauce ($1.20) and loads more.

Menya Oiden - side dishes and condiments

But again, like at Menya Mappen, it’s the self-service bar that gets me really excited. At Menya Oiden, it is self-serve kushiage. These are bite-sized skewers of eggplant ($1.50), pork (tonkatsu, $2.50), beef mince-fry ($2.20), chicken breast ($1.90), smelt whiting ($1.90) and prawns ($2.50). All panko-crumbed and deep-fried.

Menya Oiden - kushiage

Menya Oiden - kushiage canteen

Menya Oiden - canteen style dining

This is the large ontama curry rice ($6.90) with takoyaki (octopus balls), crumbed chicken breast and beef mince-fry and miso soup ($1.50). I’m sure you could tell that by the meaty nature of the kushiage selection, it belonged to Zen!

Menya Oiden - curry and kushiyaki

I have the Oiden set (regular, $3.60) which includes rice, miso soup, pickles and coleslaw. I top it off with a combination of deeply satisfying kushiage – eggplant, prawns and pork, and a serve of the chicken and vegetable stew.

Menya Oiden set with kushiage

Menya Oiden - eating

Menya Oiden canteen

Dining at either Menya Mappen or Menya Oiden works out to be very reasonable. It’s a cheap eat if you don’t go too wild on the tempura or kushiage. I adore the options and variety, but I hate having to choose. I wonder how long until they knock out the wall in between and allow noodle lovers to mix with rice lovers?
P.S. Join in the ultimate showdown: rice vs noodles! What’s your pick?
Menya Mappen
Shop 11, 537 – 551 George Street, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9283 5525
Web: www.menya.com.au/mappen

Menya Mappen on Urbanspoon
Menya Oiden
Shop 12, 537-551 George St, Sydney NSW
Menya Oiden on Urbanspoon

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.
15 comments
Jen
Jen

Looks like noodles won the showdown!

Jen
Jen

If only they'd stay open til way later. We need more cheap late night dining options in Sydney.

Jen
Jen

I've seen some people take their trays of food out of Menya Mappen to join their friends at Menya Oiden, haha... I guess that's a temp solution until they knock down that wall!

Jen
Jen

I used to always get that too, but now they've introduced one with Mentaiko (cod roe butter) which is out of this world!

Jen
Jen

Haha, yea it's a tough decision passing up Mappen for Oiden.

Grace Lee
Grace Lee

I really like eatting food made from flour!

5ft0
5ft0

I'm definitely a noodle person. I went into Menya recently and had the curry udon noodles. So delicious! Since I work in the CBD, I'm always on a lookout for cheap and tasty food =)

Jennefer
Jennefer

OMG!It's so funny!I often wearing a nice jewellery

joey@FoodiePop
joey@FoodiePop

I love having rice and noodles at the same time, and even with potatoes in a carbo-menage-a-trois. LOL

Nic@diningwithastud
Nic@diningwithastud

Im definitely a noodles girl. My faves are both soba and udon. Oh! I shouldnt be craving noodle at 8:51 but now I am ;) lol

Lil
Lil

I'm definitely a noodles person but will have to try Oiden properly sometime!

Simon @ the heart of food
Simon @ the heart of food

That's super cheap for a lunch set. Also, haven't had a gyudon since Japan! Might have to drop by Oiden sometime :)

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse)
Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse)

It's definitely the variety and ability to mix-and-match which excites me as well. And yes to knocking down the wall between the two - it would at least solve the issue my friends have where the wife adores Mappen while the husband is a massive rice fan!

Miss Piggy
Miss Piggy

They totally need to knock out the wall between the two...it's TOO hard to decide otherwise. At Mappen I ALWAYS get ontama bukkake udon...love love love it. I had it FOUR times in the week before I went overseas for a holiday.

Christine
Christine

oh man i love menya mappen! it has some of the cheapest curry udon i've seen in Sydney as well as serving up a bunch of other delicious authentic Japanese dishes. love love love this place! cool to see a post on the oiden place next to it, i've been thinking about trying it (altho i doubt i could go past mappen lol..)