Tag Archives: Japanese

Manpuku, Chatswood

With an increasing number of ramen places opening up comes more competition. Chatswood used to be a dead spot for ramen but there’s now several options to choose from, including a newly opened Ippudo in The District, and Manpuku.


I’ve heard good things about Manpuku in Kensington, so I was excited to see that it had opened up closer to home for me and I could finally taste for myself how it stacks up to other ramen places in Sydney. The location is a bit of a walk away from the main shopping precinct, but this hasn’t deterred people from coming. I’ve been a few times now and it’s very popular especially during weekend lunchtimes – so be prepared for a short wait.

Manpuku gyoza – $6.90

Apart from ramen, there’s also some tasty side dishes like takoyaki ($5.50), karaage ($5.50) or mini rice bowls. We start with the Manpuku gyoza – a pork pan-fried dumpling topped with Spanish and spring onions. On my most recent visit, this didn’t seem like it was on the menu anymore, but I can attest the plain pork gyoza is just as good with a nice crispy base and a tangy dipping sauce.

Tonkotsu shoyu ramen – $14.50, with extra egg – $2

There’s a few different types of soup bases to choose from, including chicken soup, pork bone tonkotsu soup, and miso. For most of the soup bases, you can also chose between salt (shio) or soy (shoyu).

The tonkotsu soup is creamy and rich but not too thick. The tonkotsu shoyu is a bit salty for my liking, but the shio version which I’ve had on subsequent visits, has a pleasant balance of saltiness and umami. Both come with two slices of cha shu, bean sprouts, cabbage, black fungus and a sheet of nori.

Shio gara ramen – $13.50, with extra egg – $2
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Kujin, Elizabeth Bay

Hand-eye coordination is definitely not my strong suit. There have been countless times where I’ve been presented with the challenge of catching multiple bowls of rice or eggs at a teppanyaki restaurant, only to have most of it land on me and my clothes. I have a sneaking suspicion that the chefs are actually trying to get food on you sometimes, but it’s safe to say that teppanyaki restaurants aren’t really my favourite.

That’s not to say that I don’t love food that is cooked on a teppan. I love the way that the Japanese expertly cook steak, vegetables, noodles and okonomiyaki on a hotplate, and part of the reason why I love it is because the food is cooked right in front of you, allowing you to take in and observe the chef in action.

Cooking at the teppan

Kujin is my kind of teppanyaki restaurant – there’s no food throwing of any description! The menu covers a broad selection of Japanese dishes, from small izakaya-style share plates, tempura, kushiyaki skewers, sashimi, and of course, dishes cooked on the teppan.

Tsukune and chicken thigh skewers – $3.50 each

We start with some kushiyaki skewers that are cooked on a charcoal grill next to the teppan. Both the chicken thigh and the tsukune chicken meatballs are basted in a sweet teriyaki sauce.

Soft shell crab salad – $14
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Izakaya Samurai, Neutral Bay

Sushi Samurai in Neutral Bay used to be one of my local favourites for Japanese food, but since new Japanese restaurants started opening up around the area, it seems to have fallen off my radar. I’m glad it was brought to my attention again though by Washoku Lovers, because even though it now has a new name and a new fancy touch-screen ordering system, the food is still just as good – I know because I wrote a blog post about it about 5 years ago! (excuse the crappy photos)

Sake selection* (L-R): Otokoyama Tokubetsu junmai, Ippin junmai and Urakasumi junmai

In true izakaya style, we kick start our meal with alcohol. Sake is our choice of drink tonight, and we’re presented with three different sakes to sample before making a choice. Each has its own distinct flavour, with the Otokoyama being quite dry and the Urakasumi being sweeter.

Sushi and sashimi combo* – $20.40 (usually $40.80)

Izakaya Samurai also offers different specials on different nights of the week. Dining between 5.30pm and 7pm on a Monday night means you can get a sushi and sashimi combo for half price.

Sushi and sashimi combo*

The combo has some fresh salmon, tuna and kingfish sashimi, along with a neat row of nigiri and salmon and avocado rolls.

Sushi and sashimi combo*

There’s a good selection of fish on the plate, including plump scallops, cuttlefish and ikura salmon roe which pop in the mouth.

Grilled spicy salmon sushi* (6pc) – $14.80
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Menya Mappen, Sydney

Back in 2010 when Menya Mappen first opened, the idea of a self-service udon and tempura bar was unheard of. But fast forward five years, and now there’s several Japanese self-service style noodle/rice bowl restaurants scattered around Sydney, but the original Mappen is still going strong with queues going out the door when we visit on a weeknight.

It’s literally been years since I last ate at Mappen, and while it’s still the same concept, there’s some nice additional options available. There’s a monthly special (this month is a beef yaki-udon style dish), and there’s also some new drinks including a non-alcoholic apple cider and a creamy green tea slushie.

Apple cider (non-alcoholic) – $1.90; Green tea slushie – $3.30

Move along the cafeteria line and you’ll be asked for your order. There’s lots of options, including a choice of noodles or rice, udon or soba, hot or cold, soup or sauce. Thankfully there’s a decent picture menu to help you decide what you like the look of.

Tempura bar

Keep moving along and you’ll get to the tempura bar. This is where it’s easy to go a bit crazy with all the deep fried foods, but I usually try to restrict myself to two extras otherwise I end up too full to finish it all.

Cold bar

I used to walk right past the cold section but that was before I realised what goodies lay inside the mini fridge! There’s chilled items to add to your noodles like wakame seaweed, kimchi, corn and bamboo shoots, as well as seaweed salad and daifuku desserts.

Ontama bukkake udon (regular) – $4.90
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Cho Cho San, Potts Point

Well hello again, it’s been a while! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Hokkaido in Japan where we got stuck in the airport both there and back, and when we finally landed on home soil, I was off again on another interstate work trip!

So it’s kind of nice to be home, and to have time to sit down and blog and just chill. But one thing I started to miss as soon as we got back to Australia was the incredible food in Japan – hell, even the fast food there is way better (Mos Burger anyone?)

So yes, this post is about Japanese food, coz you all know I can never get sick of the stuff. I’d had Cho Cho San on my radar for a while, so I was pretty happy when Charm chose this restaurant to have her farewell dinner.

Tempura eggplant miso – $13

The menu has a selection of dishes designed for sharing, which suited us perfectly as we were able to try little bits of everything. We started with the tempura eggplant miso, a deep fried take on the classic nasu dengaku. The tempura batter was wonderfully light, encasing soft pieces of eggplant and drizzled with a sweet miso sauce, sesame seeds and shallots.

Beef tataki, wild rice, ginger dressing – $14

The beef tataki was like no other I’d had, with super thin slices of fatty raw beef that melted in the mouth, with nutty-tasting wild rice for texture and a light ginger dressing.

Hokkaido scallops, yuzu, katsuoboshi – $18

One of the best things about visiting Hokkaido is the amazing seafood, particularly the crab and scallops. Hokkaido scallops are plump and sweet, and especially sweet when eaten raw. The hokkaido scallop dish at Cho Cho San played up the sweetness of the scallops by contrasting it against the umami flavours of the katsuoboshi (dried bonito) and the tangy flavour of yuzu. There was also chopped radish and wakame seawood for colour.

Tuna, avocado, pickled eggplant – $22
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