Washoku Lovers | Menya Mappen, Oiden + Dera-uma

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mappen, Dera-uma and Oiden are three sister eateries well known among those with a hankering for cheap Japanese food. They're prime examples of the fact that one can eat well on the cheap, without compromising quality or size. If you are of the belief that it's hard to find a delicious, satisfying hot meal for under $10 in the Sydney CBD, then you might want to think again. 
Although all run under the same management, each of the three restaurants has a different menu. 

Menya Mappen serves various types of noodles with different broths and toppings, Oiden specialises in carbalicious rice bowls and Dera-uma's menu features Japanese curries, grilled meats and specialty toji bowls. All are set up as canteen-style eateries. Mappen and Oiden's dining spaces are also home to a hot section that serves hot snack items that can be purchased as sides to be added to your meal. 

The three eateries pride themselves on serving wholesome home-style Japanese food that is both wallet-friendly and warming. A regular-sized bowl of plain noodle soup at Mappen will set you back only $3.90, while you can get a small stewed beef bowl from Oiden at the same price. 

I was invited to an event organised by Washoku Lovers and hosted by the three sister restaurants, at which they served some of their most popular dishes.

Menya Mappen

Mappen is a noodle-lover's haven. As well as having the ability to choose the style of noodle you'd like (soba or udon), you must also pick the sauce, soup and toppings which accompany it. The combinations are far and wide, with the menu listing the bases such as kake (a bonito and soy-based soup), bukkake (kake, but in sauce form), tonkostsu (rich pork broth) and curry. There is also a small range of mini rice bowls, should you feel like eating rice with your noodles. 

Kake chashu (Mappen, $8.60)
Can we stop for a minute to appreciate the soft sheet of stewed pork that sits atop these noodles? The plain udon and chashu pork comes here with a kake soup base of dashi and soy sauce. The pork itself is very tender, and there is a very generous amount of it. A classic noodle soup for those times when you feel like something warm but not too rich.

Kake Curry & Beef (Mappen, $7.90)
Can't decide between Japanese curry and noodles? Por que no los dos? I love the way in which the thick, sweet gravy coats and clings on to every inch of the unctuous udon noodles. It's sloppy, no-frills comfort food at its best. There is little in the way of vegetables here; just carbohydrates and gravy. Yes please. 

Oiden Bowl Bar

Oiden's menu revolves around one carbohydrate group: rice. The stewed beef bowl is one of their signatures, among other toppings that include everyone's favourite teriyaki chicken, kara-age, curry and a Japanese-style hashed beef. One of the most crucial parts of the Oiden experience is the ontama, a jelly-like soft boiled egg that, when pierced, spills onto the meat and rice. Also available are meal deal options, that allow for the addition of a drink and miso soup to your rice bowl 

Roast Beef Rice (Oiden, $14.90)
A relatively newer dish at Oiden, this 'lunchbox' has super thin slices of pink roast beef as a protein base, flavoured with mustard mayonnaise and sauteed cabbage. The grand meat 'tower' is quite a spectacle, but don't let the unusual combination of beef, mustard, mayo and rice put you off. The flavours somehow work together really well. Even though this looks like quite a big meal, it is not too heavy at all and is very satisfying.

Cheese Hashed Beef (Oiden, $7.90)
An Oiden favourite among regulars, the sauce that forms the base of this dish is unique and somewhat hard to pinpoint. It is sweet but savoury at the same time, with a flavour that resembles gravy crossed with  HP sauce. It's laced with thin pieces of hashed beef, and the red pickles are a welcome addition that mediates the richness of the sauce. The melted strands of cheese on top add another layer to the flavour party on your tastebuds; use the rice to mop up every last bit of it. 

Takoyaki, chimura (fish cake), sweet potato, tempura prawn
Mappen and Oiden offer an extensive selection of side dishes that you can add to your order. Takoyaki balls are soft and creamy, and the tempura prawn and sweet potato have that all-important light batter and satisfying crunch. The chimura has an interesting texture - a kind of cross between squid and seafood stick. Don't forget the dipping sauce!


Certain items on Dera-uma's menu set it apart from its sister rice bowl eatery, Oiden. These include smoky grilled hamgurger steaks, BBQ meats and gourmet, DIY-style salads. Dera-uma's specialty dish is the toji bowl, cooked by simmering meat in an egg mixture flavoured with a dashi sauce. 

Toji-Oyako don (Dera-uma, $6.50)

This bowl translates to 'Mother child bowl', and features chicken thigh fillets set in silky egg, with a little side of pickled ginger. The egg forms an omelette-like blanket over the rice, and the bowl is a humble, homely meal that you really can't go wrong with. 

DX Favourite Box (Dera-uma, $13.90)
The DX Box is a meat lover's paradise, and is made up of a grilled hamburger steak and BBQ grilled beef atop a bed of short grain rice, fluorescent yellow pickles and a token ontama. Rejoice in the pleasure of bursting the egg to let the sunny yolk spill out and form a delicious binding sauce that flavours the rice. The hamburger steak has a really nice char that lends a smoky flavour to each mouthful.

Mandatory pleasure shot of #yolkporn.

Salmon salad (Dera-uma)
If you're in the mood for something a little less carb-heavy, then the salads at Derauma are a must. Construct your own salad by adding different veggies, salad dressings and to your chosen protein. This salmon salad is a good-sized serving topped with a thin, glazed fillet of teriyaki salmon. 

I was lucky enough to dine thanks to Washoku Lovers, however all opinions are my own

Mappen Noodle Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Oiden Bowl Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Dera-Uma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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