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Manpuku

a
acd123 Dec 4, 2008 10:35 AM

I love noodle soups, especially asian varieties (Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian - you get the idea), so I was looking forward to trying this place, especially after reading good things about it. I was looking forward to trying the takoyaki. When I ordered I was told that the takoyaki would take over 25 minutes to prepare. I thought that was stange as it's supposed to be a specialty.

So I had the kake udon. It was a huge disappointment. The broth was flavourless. I has to add tons of soy sauce and shichimi-togarashi to get an flavour at all. The toppings were basically non-existant. A few bits of tempura, green onion, and the biggest joke of all, two tiny slices (i mean about 0.5 mm thick) of the fish cake. The udon was good which didn't really matter because these was so little flavour in the broth.

I will be back to try the takoyaki, but never again their noodle soup. It sucked.

  1. g
    Gary Dec 4, 2008 02:06 PM

    Shame... I've tried pretty much all the other udon variations there and found them to be quite good. The curry udon has the most flavour; I also like the rice variation of that dish. Usually their standard line is 10-15 mins for the takoyaki... must have been an unusually busy day.

    In general I've found the food there to be pretty decent with generous portions and a good price. But it's not a place I'd travel across the city for: more of a friendly neighbourhood place if you live nearby. I say give it another go if you get a chance.

    1. pinstripeprincess Dec 4, 2008 04:22 PM

      it is not excellent, which is unfortunate because i would love for it to be better but it's passable because i find the price relatively cheap and in line with what i get. i don't ever feel gouged by them.

      there are a few things on the menu better than others though and as long as you don't dream of that takoyaki from the streets of osaka or tokyo.. you'll probably do fine. i'm often there for a quick take-out dinner snack and found the onigiri to be one of the best bets. they're fresh warm but have the plastic wrap around the nori with the 1-2-3 pull tab instructions to keep it crisp and the salmon filling might be meagre but i like how they mix in bonito and seasame seeds into the rice itself. quite large and hearty.... 2 for $2.99 is hard to beat!

      as for the udon, the broth could take a pass but i usually indulge in the extra noodle option as i find their udon usually well textured.

      1. pinkprimp Dec 4, 2008 04:28 PM

        Heh. I thought I went on an off day, since it was the night of the AGO opening to the public...but guess not.

        I loved it the first time I went so I was excited to go back that night. My takoyaki was still REALLY mushy-raw inside (it was soft the first time I had it but this was beyond soft) and when I finally flagged someone down to point this out, she just told me, "that's how we make it." Yeeeeeah. BF and I didn't finish it.

        Also, when ordering, I asked a server about the filling in the onigri and she told us salmon. When I bit into it, it was DEFINETLY tuna. Really, dry canned tuna at that.

        I will say that I love the texture of the udon, but I doubt I will be rushing back anytime soon.

        3 Replies
        1. re: pinkprimp
          e
          echeng25 Dec 4, 2008 05:11 PM

          The takoyaki isn't really great. I think there should be one big piece of octopus inside each ball, but at Manpuku there are more like small pieces. Curry udon is what I would go for, it is pretty decent and not many places (if any?) in TO that serve it...

          I admit I go there only half because of the food, and half because I like to support those small, specialized ethnic food places, because we don't have enough of them in TO :)

          1. re: echeng25
            pinkprimp Dec 4, 2008 05:52 PM

            I actually didn't like the curry udon. I tried it because there was a thread a while back saying how delicious it was. When I got it, it was a VERY watered down soup (I know that Japanese curries aren't as strong as Indian, etc.) and there was no meat! When I asked, they just said they ran out for the night (it was the AGO night). Should've told me before or charge less or give me more vegetables!

            Maybe I'm just crabby because I have exams soon...lol

          2. re: pinkprimp
            mogo Dec 4, 2008 08:27 PM

            It was mushy raw? The 2nd time I had the takoyaki there (about a week ago? after the AGO opening, anyway), it was strangely firm. All previous takoyaki I've had has been on the softer, melty side.

            I had the curry udon there and really enjoyed it. It is less curry flavour than I would like, but then again, I am unreasonably fond of curry. I was surprised by how much meat was in it. The meat-to-soup ratio was higher than you'd get in most noodle soups around town. The udon noodles themselves are very nice.

          3. Notorious P.I.G. Dec 4, 2008 09:51 PM

            I always have a good bowl of noodles at Manpuku. Seems a couple people with negative experiences here went on a night where they got absolutely killed with orders. In light of that fact, I would give them a second chance.

            They also have their winter menu up which includes Oden (coming soon as of the last time I was there), a killer grilled chicken miso udon, and salami curry, among other things.

            As for the broth at Manpuku I think it's sufficient for what it is and it's also their style. Some are mild, and some are strong, but I don't think any of them suck. In general, Udon broth is very rarely supposed to be strong and for traditional Kake Udon you usually only get one small slice of Kamaboko. But who knows, I wasn't eating your bowl of noodles and maybe the broth really was bland with paper thin slices of Kamaboko. All I can attest to is that I eat there two to three times per week and for the type of restaurant they are I have never had a subpar bowl of Udon.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
              t
              tjr Dec 5, 2008 07:53 AM

              I haven't had everything there, but I've been quite a few times and the udon is pretty good for the most part. Certainly not the best udon I've ever had, but probably the best I've had in Toronto that wasn't homemade.

              Their takoyaki is another story though. Everytime I've had it, it has either been over or undercooked.

              1. re: tjr
                Notorious P.I.G. Dec 5, 2008 11:42 AM

                Yeah, I would agree with that overall. If I'm in the mood for a sweeter broth I will go with Ematei's Udon, but for the most part I would say that between Manpuku and Ematei there's not a better bowl to be had unless homemade.

                I don't usually get the Takoyaki there. I find it to be kind of pedestrian as far as Takoyaki goes.

            2. h
              herbs go karts Dec 5, 2008 03:22 PM

              we were there a couple of weeks ago. Curry udon, beef udon and the takoyaki.

              Lots of food for not very much money, and to me tastes a lot like homemade.

              A lot of times in Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese home cooking, the broths used are fairly "plain" tasting.

              The takoyaki I would have liked to be firmer; it was oozing soft and pretty much liquid on the inside. I guess that's the way they do it. Tasted pretty good though

              1 Reply
              1. re: herbs go karts
                t
                tjr Dec 5, 2008 05:00 PM

                Their takoyaki is pretty bad compared to Japan, not really worth getting. Which is kind of strange, because takoyaki is pretty simple to make with the right equipment.

              2. Chester Eleganté Apr 8, 2009 01:27 PM

                I ordered the beef udon for takeout and thus received the broth separate from the noodles and meat. Consequently, I feel I received a better product, as the noodle and beef already comes sauced with a much more flavourful beef jus, along with the shreddings of beef from that sauce. You can picture it as similar to ordering the lo mein at a Cantonese canteen (noodles with soup on the side).

                The added benefits are that, along with the superior (undiluted) flavour, your udon and beef won't get overcooked by the boiling broth, and it's easier to eat straightaway without waiting for it to cool down. You can ladle on whatever quantity of broth you like at your leisure. So my suggestion: get the broth on the side!

                20 Replies
                1. re: Chester Eleganté
                  g
                  goodcookiedrift Apr 8, 2009 02:05 PM

                  It really isn't THAT bad at Manpuku. Is it the best ever? Certainly not. But at the same time it's not so bad that you're better off requesting broth on the side to get a superior product. The problem is - based on this post - is that people have very odd and quite frankly, deranged expectations.

                  It's a good, cheap, meal. For the price, the service and the quantity, it's a pretty decent meal.

                  Let's put this into perspective. Does anyone go to Bitondos hoping it's the pizza or calzone this side of your Nona's kitchen in Naples?

                  1. re: goodcookiedrift
                    pinstripeprincess Apr 8, 2009 02:15 PM

                    i think that there is a to each their own type situation here.

                    if one could optimize their experience in such away, even at bitondos or a more chain like restaurant... then why not? everyone has their own limits of what they're willing to do to optimize deliciousness and if it's not very difficult to do then i would go ahead and do it.

                    whenever i drop by the bakery where i get frozen croissants from... if i am so inclined to get already baked croissants i will take them home and refrain from touching them in the car. a little refresh in the oven for crispiness, warmth and melty butter and i'm happy. yums!

                    while i'd probably go for the gyudon to have the sauce all soaked up with rice.. i can see why i wouldn't want that beefy sauce diluted into the soup for a weaker flavour either.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess
                      g
                      goodcookiedrift Apr 8, 2009 02:26 PM

                      I guess I'm just a little perplexed about people's reactions. Rarely do us Torontonians ever just take a "for what it's worth" attitude with food. It either has to measure up to what we had in (insert country here) or it has to be haute cuisine. Or in this case, we have to find a way(s) to maximize our experience.

                      Then again, I love dashing handfuls of shichimi-togarashi on whatever I eat there. So yeah, I guess I'm a pot. There's a kettle over there. And I think it's black.

                      1. re: goodcookiedrift
                        pinstripeprincess Apr 8, 2009 02:42 PM

                        i don't disagree.. the whole mentality i keep seeing of such and such a city is better than toronto is really disappointing. but at the same time when it comes down to small personal preferences.. that's really a to each their own type situation. i think small easily done edits aren't a problem but just trashing something for the sake of it is actually kind of sad sounding in the end really.

                        btw, your edits sound yummy. i always forget there is a shaker when i am there.

                        1. re: goodcookiedrift
                          Chester Eleganté Apr 8, 2009 02:54 PM

                          Well, I have nothing against the place, I wasn't saying that it was bad, nor was I specifically trying to find a way to maximize the experience.

                          As I stated above, I inadvertently had the two components divided, and thus was able to taste it in a different form. You would otherwise not be able to enjoy the beef sauce, as it would've been covered by the broth. You still have the broth there to pour back onto the noodles. Hmm ya you're right, these are some pretty deranged expectations. I must think I'm reinventing the wheel or something.

                          1. re: Chester Eleganté
                            c
                            childofthestorm Apr 8, 2009 03:26 PM

                            I enjoy this board especially for the stuff like "I asked them to bring me my soup with its liquids and solids separated" and "I brought my own rye bread to Caplansky's." Restauranteurs must hear some of this stuff and go, "Ah, someone from Chowhound."

                            1. re: childofthestorm
                              Chester Eleganté Apr 8, 2009 03:45 PM

                              Okay well, if my original exhortation was a touch overzealous, how bout this, if you ever order it as takeout, give it a try sans soup first, and compare. Either way, the noodles themselves are of good quality.

                              1. re: Chester Eleganté
                                n
                                neighborguy Apr 8, 2009 04:17 PM

                                I'm going to have to get take-out soup next time I'm in the 'hood. I've had the curry udon and I'd happily have it again. My first taste of takoyaki was there and it sounds like I also got the not-quite-done-in-the-middle iteration. Sigh. And after hearing all about it on this board. Well, that's just the great thing about CHers....

                                Regarding childofthestorm's comment about restaurants, I kinda doubt most places even know what CH is and if they did would they even give a flying F-ish? While we have a good spectrum of informed opinion here and a restaurant is a business ready to cater to a variety of clientele I just dont think we are in that greater majority.

                              2. re: childofthestorm
                                skylineR33 Apr 8, 2009 06:12 PM

                                Ummm.. I don't quite get this. This is very normal to have soup and noodle (and sauce if applicable) separated when one orders take out. Almost all chinese or Japanese restaurant/food court (not Edo or Made in Japan) I have ordered take out do that, either it is a $3.99 or a $6.99 item. It tastes much worst when eating the noodle soaked in the soup after 10 minutes.

                                1. re: skylineR33
                                  c
                                  childofthestorm Apr 8, 2009 06:38 PM

                                  Oh yeah, for takeout I get it, absolutely, wasn't disagreeing with that. My weekly pho takeout comes that way. I just wouldn't do it if I was sitting in the restaurant.

                                  1. re: childofthestorm
                                    aser Apr 8, 2009 06:48 PM

                                    Right, the poster is suggesting a request to separate soup and noodle while dining in.

                                    Tsukemen is basically what he's looking for, the ramen and broth are kept separate and served that way. Unfortunately I don't know of any restaurant offering it in Toronto.

                                    1. re: childofthestorm
                                      skylineR33 Apr 8, 2009 06:50 PM

                                      I see, got it.

                          2. re: goodcookiedrift
                            c
                            capiscum Apr 10, 2009 02:42 PM

                            good use of the word deranged!

                            i think that manpuku is fantastic and delicious. i adore the noodles and appreciate subtle flavours, so i enjoy the broth. the salami curry is fun, friday-night-cheap-junk-food-dinner, and my partner can't get enough. i always find the staff incredibly friendly and willing to answer any questions i have.

                            i've never had takoyaki elsewhere, so i can't compare it to what your grandma makes, but i think it's very yummy and that you get plenty of octopus for the price point.

                            comparing it to ematei, which i love, is ridiculous. manpuku is a food court spot. ematei is a restaurant. i'm glad i live within walking distance of both.

                            1. re: capiscum
                              aser Apr 10, 2009 02:48 PM

                              I think it's apt because they're literally a stones throw away from each other, and both serving similar dishes. I would much rather pay a few more $ for a superior version that's minutes away.

                              It's not apples and oranges.....

                              1. re: aser
                                c
                                childofthestorm Apr 10, 2009 03:07 PM

                                Yeah, but sometimes you just want a quick lunch rather than a sit-down-and-be-served experience. We're lucky to have both spots downtown, and could honestly use more "non-sushi" Japanese places in town. When I lived in Japan I barely ate sushi (I was poor) but always ate very, very well.

                                1. re: childofthestorm
                                  t
                                  tjr Apr 11, 2009 05:56 PM

                                  I wish somewhere did tonkatsu sandwiches...

                                  1. re: tjr
                                    c
                                    childofthestorm Apr 11, 2009 06:49 PM

                                    *wipes drool off monitor*

                                    1. re: tjr
                                      k
                                      katana750 Apr 11, 2009 09:59 PM

                                      Nakamura Bakery at J-town has katsu sandwich, it's ok. I buy it once in a while. The bread is good but I don't know about the katsu is just OK.
                                      I prefer the curry bread and doughnut.

                                      1. re: katana750
                                        t
                                        tjr Apr 12, 2009 09:01 AM

                                        I don't go there very often. Maybe I should take a trip! Thanks, katana750.

                                      2. re: tjr
                                        n
                                        neighborguy Apr 12, 2009 06:12 AM

                                        Mmm...in baguette/bahn mi buns with a bit of sauce and thin slices of cucumber and apple...

                            2. Muffin__Top Apr 8, 2009 03:50 PM

                              I never thought their noodles were OUTSTANDING but what is great is that rice special they have... I forgot what it's called its on the side board, not on the menu- don something... there is shredded pork and onions on top of rice..5.99 its delicious!

                              Takoyaki is OKAY I can't find the octopus and there is too much pancake batter for my liking recently. I used to like it when it first opened.

                              1. aser Apr 8, 2009 04:43 PM

                                Manpuku is basically a fast food takeout counter. Taking that into consideration, the food is good for the value.

                                Judging it against ematei, a restaurant, then it doesn't compare. Ematei's dashi kicks manpuku's, no contest. The flavour of manpuku's broth is really bland in comparison. Then again, you're paying half the price.

                                I would rather fork out the extra cash for a bowl at ematei.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: aser
                                  skylineR33 Apr 8, 2009 07:39 PM

                                  The rice at Ematei is also much better, those at Manpuku is more like food court quality. I would rather spend 3 more buck to have the Curry Tonkatsu at Ematei. It also comes with a salad and soup at Ematei.

                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                    k
                                    katana750 Apr 9, 2009 05:27 PM

                                    I agee with skylineR33, the curry sauce at Ematei is better IMO. Since Sakura isn't what it used to be, I'll try the udon next time at Manpuku but I won't have the curry at Manpuku for 3rd time.

                                    1. re: katana750
                                      n
                                      neighborguy Apr 9, 2009 06:12 PM

                                      I've had the curry at Tako on Don Mills...but not at Ematei...if anyone has experience with the two, how do they compare?

                                2. i
                                  Ironchefa Apr 15, 2009 03:36 PM

                                  I had the OCHAZUKE (Onigiri in tea broth) today for dinner. Broth and onigiri were packed separately for take-out. After a 20-min walk, the soup was still steaming hot and the onigiri was still toasty and full of texture. The subtle broth was great with the slightly salty rice. I loved it! For $4 how can you not....and I didn't have to cook tonight!

                                  1. food face Aug 14, 2009 06:54 PM

                                    There are better restaurants to speak ill of in the this city. Manpuku deserves none of this petty chowhound nonsensical pretentious nit-picking.

                                    I had the Curry Beef soup and thought it was the best noodle soup I've had in Toronto. It had tons of thinly sliced/shredded beef that was very tendre and not fatty. On top of that also came a generous amount beautifully thinly sliced fresh green onions. The broth was rich and home made. It tasted like a mummy made it. There where perfectly sized chunks of potato in it as well as some carrots. The noodles where the best thick noodles I have had. Nice and tender without being too chewy and starchy. They brought me some Japanese mustard that was pungant and went perfectly with the bold broth. It was my first time eating authentic Udon.

                                    All the staff there went out of their way to make me and the other guests feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. As you leave you get a string of "thank-you" and "goodbyes" from all the staff. Very cute. There was relaxing music playing. I had just had a massage and it was the perfect place to go. There where nerdy U of T students also enjoying their meal. They where not hipster nerdy. They where dorky nerdy. Everyone made me feel comfortable including the guests.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: food face
                                      aser Aug 14, 2009 07:17 PM

                                      Nobody is speaking ill of them, we're judging them on their food, which is what chowhound should be about. Nobody said they're not nice to their customers.

                                      If it's your first udon experience, I suggest you try a bowl at Ematei, especially their nabiyake udon. Compare and see which you prefer.

                                      For the record, I frequent both, depending on time.

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