Saturday, October 22, 2011


It is a truth universally acknowledged that there is nothing that a couple of white people love more than to go for dinner at an Asian restaurant & find themselves to be the only non-Asains eating there. Tucked away in a grotty food court mall, Manpuku is small & pokey with a unconventional approach to decoration. There was a bicycle hanging on one wall, although whether this was intended as wall art or just because one of the chefs had nowhere else to put it was unclear. Regardless, you don't come to a place like this for anything other than the food, & the more ramshackle it is, the more authentic the experience we suppose, & with the abundance of Asian options in Toronto, the hunt for authenticity is the white whale.

Manpuku is an utterly affordable meal, for less than $10 you can be bursting at the seams, but without that pesky MSG hangover that often results from a place this cheap. J ordered a small salad with roasted onions. Although it looked pretty, the dressing was a disappointment, it tasted too much like a bottled dressing and most likely was. However, no sooner had it arrived...

...than our udon showed up, J ordering the basic niku udon with beef onions and their "special blend of sauce"... . 

L ordered the curry udon with beef as well

And it was at this point that our shared experience diverged, shaking the Toronto Food Diary to its very core, J liked it, L didn't. What now? 

If you asked J she would tell you that it was hearty, comforting & everything one could hope for from a big bowl of udon. The udon is authentic and light, just like the udon J was lucky to taste for herself in Tokyo. A far cry from the glutinous worms of wheat they call udon at Loblaws. J is not usually a fan of udon in broth,  but Manpuku's broth is subtly seasoned and best of all, didn't have copious amounts of MSG, which the prices would have lead you to believe

L on the other hand would be more inclined to wax lyrical about the cheese sandwich he made for himself after they got home. L just didn't care for the broth & had it been half the size he may have struggled on gamely, but the sheer unremitting vastness of the bowl sapped his spirits & although he enjoyed the beef, & the overall flavors were far from unpleasant he just found it way too much of one thing that wasn't all that good a thing in the first place. 

Conclusion: If you are already a fan of asian noodle bowls, get on your bike and head here immediately, you won't get better quality for the price in the city. If you are new to noodles and you like your food to kick you in the gut with its intensity, you might want to give Pho a go first, where hot sauce is readily available and encouraged

Check out their website

Manpuku on Urbanspoon

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