Nestled inside the Skyview Plaza, this unsuspecting collection of little restaurants pack a punch. It doesn't matter what time of day that I dine at Mappen but there is always a line out the door of eager diners and there is good reason. Mappen has become a cult self service noodle bar offering soba, udon and ramen dishes. You can read about my previous visits here and here.
Firstly you order your noodles. This guy has some great arm action as he plunges the noodle basket into a cauldron of boiling water and shakes the water off them when they come out. Actually before you order your noodles, if you want a beverage ensure to grab this from the corner just before you get to the noodle guy (it's not easy to double back!).
The noodles slither into the bowl .....
....then the noodles are topped with your choice of soup or sauce. there is Tonkatsu soup or sauce (pork bone broth), Kake soup (soy sauce and bonito flakes and stock) or Bukkake sauce (soy sauce and bonito flakes). I was conflicted. I was hankering for the chilli pork udon but on the menu it comes as a soup. However, I really wanted bukkake sauce. No problem the noodle guy says...he can make it however I want it. Bonus! speak up if you want something different. It's worth it!
You can also opt for ontama, which is a ooey gooey egg...essentially it's a 65 degree egg and the best eggs I have ever had. How they keep them so soft is beyond me.
Grab a tray and head on down the line. This next step is the best part. You get to pick and mix your own tempura and sides. There is a vast selection of vegetable and pumpkin karaage (although I love the sweet potato karage which they didn't have this visit).
There is prawn tempura, vegetable tempura, hot dog on sticks and takoyaki balls.
In the cold section there is salad, prawns and corn to name a few. At the end of the line when you reach the cashier don't forget to ladle on tempura crumbs and shallots. They bring the whole dish together.
Then it's time to grab a table. In the centre there are big communal tables where everyone slurps together. The idea is that you don't sit before ordering only after you have your food. It moves quickly though. I have never had to wait for a seat.
Her sides are a prawn tempura and a skewer of takoyaki balls (which we share).
My specially made chilli pork bukkake with ontama and udon noodles. As my sides I choose the pumpkin karaage and a prawn tempura side (we share the pumpkin karaage)
Although I love to sit at the communal tables and enjoy the atmosphere, I really love the benches and seating along with walls. They are set up so you feel that you are sitting in a tiny udon joint with a quaint roof...cozy.
*Roofood dined as a guest of Mappen and SD Marketing