Sunday, 20 November 2011

Menya Noodle Bar Chinatown, Haymarket (20th November 2011)

I caught up with Ken for lunch today - he was keen to have ramen (even though I felt that the weather was too warm for hot noodle soup) so we met up at Chinatown around 1pm in search of this ramen place Ken suggested we check out: Menya Noodle Bar Chinatown. The name rings a bell, doesn't it? Menya Mappen, Menya Oiden and now Menya Noodle Bar - I've pretty much been to all the Menya restaurants in town in the same month! The ones I've been to so far are good so I'm expecting Menya Noodle Bar to serve affordable and delicious ramen too :)

Where IS this Menya place??? According to their website, the restaurant is located on Quay St but after walking along the block and inside Prince Centre looking for the place, we still didn't find our ramen shop. We ended up on the Thomas St side of Prince Centre and found the busy restaurant tucked away under the stairway of the building next to several other small Asian noodle shops. "Oh, so THIS is place - Jono and I have wondered if it was any good," I said to Ken as we headed in. Jono and I have been around this area for food during our first few weeks in Sydney but haven't yet ventured into the ramen shop, often wondering whether it was any good because it always had queues and today was no exception. Looking at the giant menu board by the entrance, 
I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with the selection of ramen dishes available (Ken already decided what he was going to have!). Hmm...now that looks good...oh and that too...I eventually went for the Tori Katsu Ramen in Tori-gara shoyu (Japanese style fried chicken ramen in a soy based chicken broth) while Ken got himself the summer special cold ramen, and we shared a side of gyoza (must-have accompaniment with ramen!). Unlike the other Menya restaurants where you pick up your food before paying and finding a seat, this one requires patrons to first order and pay for their meals (they accept cash only) then given a number for the table.

The place was a bit noisy as it had an open plan kitchen (you can watch your meal being prepared) and the cooks calls out the dishes when they are ready for serving - they even call out greetings as and when people come in and leave the restaurant which was distracting but nice at the same time as it adds a personal touch and sense of attentiveness and appreciation for their customers. 
Ken and I found ourselves seats on one of the communal bar tables sharing it with other diners. Hmm, my legs are a bit too short to reach the ground sitting on the bar stool...that's going to hurt my legs come the end of our lunch session :/ 

Our food arrived shortly and boy was the serving huge! And this was the regular size!! My ramen cost $10.90 but you can upsize most of the dishes for just $2.50. I can't imagine what the upsized version would look like...I'm not even sure if I can finish my regular size ramen right now! Hmm, I wonder if they have a downsized version...My ramen was cooked al dente, still bouncy and chewy, and nicely complimented with its shoyu based soup and the deliciously crunchy Japanese fried chicken. Yum, so happy with my meal :) 
Cutlery, condiments and a big bowl of tempura crumbs were available at each table, all for the customer's own self-serving needs. Generously sprinkling shicimi (seven flavour chilli pepper that comes in a bottle, often used with soups) and adding a spoonful of tempura crumbs into my ramen - delicious! Ken too was enjoying his large bowl of summer cold ramen, grinning ear to ear. Funny how we can get so excited and happy over good food hehe :P The gyoza too was lovely though I felt it was too much food for me by the time I had them AND my ramen. Too full!

One of their famous soups is the Menya's Rich Tonkotsu Soup (which to Ken's disappointment was not available for lunch today) - their
paitan soup is said to be potently flavoursome and collagen-rich, made by simmering pork bones for over 10 hours then added with fresh vegetables. Sounds very impressive to me and definitely worth another visit to try it out!


At the communal bar table in Menya Noodle Bar Chinatown

My delicious Tori-katsu ramen ($10.90) in Tori-gara soup :)

Menya Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon


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