Whenever I encounter this chirpy high-pitched wail in Japanese clipped staccato, it always make me smile. Japanese custom dictates that staff greet the arrival of every customer, a echoing catcall that bounces from the floorstaff and through the kitchen like a verbal Mexican wave.
Menya Japan Noodle Bar is a little bit of ramen in a jostle of Chinese noodle shops in the student cheap eat haven that is the Prince Centre--next door is the local favourite Chinese Noodle Restaurant. However Menya is a reminiscent step straight into Japan, where customers pre-order and pay the cashier at the counter, take their table number and drinks, and sit at a giant communal dining table.
The interior is modern and sleek with the shiny laquered table surface and an eye-catching artwork that dominates one wall. It's a tangle of matt grey wire, like a mob of coat hangers having an orgy, and although it looks harsh and dangerous, it's more like a springy metal mattress, having bumped into it by accident on my way out, and bouncing off it rather harmlessly.
Katsu-don set $9.90
Deep-fried chicken cutlet cooked with fluffy egg, sliced onion,
shallot and sweet soy sauce served on top of rice
alongside a bowl of small menya ramen
The katsu-don set is an overwhelming feast given the under-$10 price. The chicken katsu-don, crumbed, fried and then covered in a sweet egg and stock mixture, is a little bit on the too-sweet side, but this is eased with the clear tasty pork broth of the large accompanying ramen.
Chicken katsu don on rice
Small Menya ramen
Soy flavoured noodle soup topped with boiled bean sprouts,
roasted pork, chopped vegetarian fungus, sesame and
dried seaweed shoot
Menya soba $6.50
Soy flavoured stock soup topped with seasoned fried bean curd,
seaweed, tempura flakes and cooked shiitake mushroom
The Menya soba is satisfying firm and al-dente. Two plump sheets of abura-age deep-fried tofu are soft, juicy and sweet, two rehydrated shiitake mushrooms are filled with flavour. The tempura flakes are like deep-fried rice bubble puffs, cleansed easily by the cooked seaweed, chopped scallions and sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.
There are plenty of ramen, soba and udon variants to choose from. Spicy tan-tan men and a caramelised garlic-infused kogashi-ninniku ramen are perfect slurping fare. Smaller appetites can choose the "kids and ladies ramen" for only $4.90.
Cold noodle dishes include the roast pork and boiled egg tsuke men, the Chinese-style hiyashi ramen, and the sweet simplicity of plain zaru soba cold soba noodles--one my of summertime favourites.
And for the non-noodle fans, box sets, gyoza, takoyaki, California rolls, salmon sashimi and mentaiko chilli cod roe rice balls provide tasty alternatives.
This is fast food, Japanese-style, prepared fresh whilst you wait; a format which has its wannabes but one that few succeed in.
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Menya Japan Noodle Bar
Ground floor, Shop TG8
8 Quay St, Sydney
(enter from Thomas Street, ground level)
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 1020
Mon and Wed-Fri 11.30am-3pm
Sat-Sun & Public Holidays 11.30am-4pm
Mon, Wed to Sun 5pm-9.30pm (closed Tuesdays)
Menya is part of the Yakiniku group of retaurants by I'S Holdings that includes:
Rengaya (Japanese BBQ)
73 Miller Street, North Sydney Tel: +61 (02) 9926 6169
Suminoya (Japanese BBQ + all-you-can-eat)
1 Hosking Place, Sydney (near Martin Place) Tel: +61 (02) 9231 2177
Koh-ya Sydney (all-you-can-eat Japanese BBQ)
Shop 1, 9-17 Young Street, Neutral Bay Tel: +61 (02) 9904 5036
Koh-ya Brisbane (all-you-can eat Japanese BBQ)
Shop 4, 624 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, Tel: +61 (07) 3252 3275
Koh-ya Cairns (all-you-can-eat Japanese BBQ)
Shop 50, 1st floor, Orchid Plaza, Spence Street, Cairns, Tel: +61 (07) 4041 6006
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Japanese ramen -- Menya Japan Noodle Bar, Haymarket
Japanese ramen -- Ramen Kan, Haymarket (Aug 05), (Nov 04)
Japanese ramen -- Ryo's Noodles, Crows Nest (Mar08), (Aug07) and (Jul07)
Japanese ramen -- Tokyo Ramen, Hornsby
Japanese ramen -- Zenya Noodle Bar, Eastwood
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9/16/2006 11:41:00 pm