‘Mappen’ means ‘one more time’ *plays Daft Punk* in the Nagoya dialect, and why wouldn’t you come back when prices are so cheap?
Mappen already has an udon bar in Sydney with constant queues to get in. Now they have launched a Melbourne ramen bar. There are definitely a lot of Japanese and ramen places in Melbourne, but what is becoming common is the fast and cheap aspect of noodle shops so common in Japan.
Similarly to the udon shop down the road next to Hungry Jacks, the idea is to price the basics from about $4.90-$8 then charge for extra toppings (50c-$3.50). Consequently the place has a canteen like feel where you line up to order, grab your extra toppings and entree items, then return your bowl afterwards.
Broth options include the classic tonkotsu (pork), miso (fermented bean paste) and shoyu (soy sauce – my personal favourite).
They also serve some interesting drinks such as matcha lemonade and matcha calpis. On offer that night was the iced matcha latte, which surprisingly went down well with me. I usually don’t like matcha, but it was subtle and more on the milky side with a hint of the matcha flavour.
I was more excited about the Choya soda! I first fell in love with Choya at my first Washoku Lovers’ event at Maedaya. It was great to see sake master Toshi Maeda from Maedaya manning the drinks at this event too. The drink was a mix of the plum wine with soda, making the alcohol less hard-hitting and less sweet on each gulp. I will definitely be stocking up for my next trip with friends!
The menu is a bit overwhelming at first, with so many options and variables. I decided to go with a large bowl of the Mappen DLX with pulled pork, egg and more. I chose the Shoyu broth – it was a bit heavier and saltier than other ramen places and there were lots of noodles to fill me up.
I regretted grabbing so many extra toppings, like an extra egg and squid salad, because I was ready to roll back to my car afterwards!
I was also surprised by the entree bar options – we tried some takoyaki, gyoza and a spring roll and all were quite delicious. Usually I feel most places add entrees as an extra option, but the quality is not that great.
If you’re not a ramen person, you can always take advantage of the cheap prices and try one of their rice bowls. See their full menu here.
Mappen is a decent option if you’re after a cheap and filling lunch – I’d be interested to come back for their rice bowls and matcha lemonade.
The event was held by Yuri from Washoku Lovers, an organisation from Sydney that partners with Japanese restaurants. They aim to provide member benefits and enhance awareness of Japanese food and culture. Find out more about them here.
Mappen Ramen is open from 11.30-10pm Monday to Sunday and is located at Shop 2, 168 Bourke St, Melbourne CBD.