Menya Mappen Noodle Bar (again!), Breadtop & Emperor's Puffs (5th November 2011)

Since there was not much in the house for me to whip up something for lunch, I decided to head into town for food. Ok, fine - I was just darn lazy to make something since Jono was away in California (and can't be bothered cooking for one) so around 12pm, I headed into town for lunch. You would not believe where I ended up - back in Menya Mappen Noodle less than a week!! The thought of those slippery and chewy udon gets my tummy very excited. I literally followed my stomach to the noodle place!

There was a queue all the way outside the noodle shop when I arrived but it only took about 10 minutes before I got to the noodle station. This time I had the small Ontama Mentaiko Bukkake Udon (cost $5.90), a slight variation of the udon I had last Sunday. My udon was served hot (cold option also available) with a soft boiled egg but instead of a lemon wedge, I was given a spoonful of mentaiko i.e. cod roe butter, giving the udon dish a much creamier taste than the normal Ontama Bukkake Udon. I also picked up a serving of sansai vegetables from the cold shelf ($1) and miso soup ($1.50). I had to try the self-dispensing miso machine - it was so tempting to press the button :P The total cost me less than ten bucks making Menya Mappen one of the cheapest eats in town.

Mmm, I like this cold sansai vegetables though I have no idea what it's made up of. Sansai literally translates to 'mountain vegetables' and originally refers to wild vegetables that were not cultivated (it is said you can cultivate certain species today) - the pieces of white vegetable tasted a bit like bamboo shoot and one of the greens looked like cooked fern. The Ontama Mentaiko Bukkake Udon was also nice but I think I much preferred the original, less creamy version. Photos taken at Menya Mappen today here.

Mappen Noodle Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

After lunch, I headed into World Square Shopping Centre to Rebel Sport to pick up a kickboard for swimming. Now that I've got a 10-trip swim pass at North Sydney Olympic Pool, I will need a kickboard that is often used in my swim programme. I stopped by at Breadtop to grab a few takeaway buns for later - a pork floss bun, and a twisted bun sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (cost $2 each). I took a small piece of each just to try them out as I walked out to the main street. Yum, they tasted exactly like what I remembered! When I was growing up, Mum would often bring my brother and I to the local bakery to pick up after-school snacks and buns such as these were some of our favourites. Hmm, brings back lots of good memories of our afternoon tea sessions...Photos taken at Breadtop:

A variety of Asian breads, cakes and pastries sold at Breadtop

Breadtop outlet at World Square Shopping Centre

Pork floss bun

Twisted bun sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon

Next stop, the fresh vegetables and fruit market at Paddy's Market in Haymarket and then home. Since I was in Chinatown, I decided to pick up a takeaway dinner and headed to Eating World Food Court to the Indonesian food stall where I got myself a rice and 3 sides combo meal (cost $8). Another one of those places that sells food that makes me nostalgic - chicken curry, stir-fry mustard leaves, and fried bean curd with stir-fry vegetables on rice. Can't believe I'm already thinking of dinner when I've just had lunch :P

As I walked down Dixon St towards Paddy's Market, I noticed the queue for Emperor's Puff was particularly short this afternoon. Normally 10-15 people deep, there were only 2 families queuing up for this popular snack which you would purchase from this hole-in-wall shop owned by and located next door to Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery. I've always been curious why people bother to queue for these little puffs - I never bothered to queue for it whenever I see so many customers waiting in line. Today must be my (and their) lucky day that I'll get to sample these puffs (and blog about them!).

It took about 10 minutes before I got to the front of the line. "Is this any good?" asked the woman behind me who was with her husband, both tourists. "Actually I don't know what the hype is either so queueing up to check it out - normally the queue is pretty long," I said and we continued on the conversation for the next couple of minutes. I was told off by the young lady selling the puffs on the other side of the window when she caught sight of my iPhone pointing towards her direction. "No photos! No photos!" she shouted, waving her arms in the air. Boo...all I wanted was to take a picture of the interesting contraption that makes the puffs :/ It was really cool to watch the machine as it cleverly squirted batter into the cast iron moulds which then progressed on to the heating element where the batter gets cooked to a perfect golden brown and finally, to the young lady working behind the window who is responsible for quickly removing the puffs and fill the insides with custard, the whole process working in a conveyor-like system. Cost 30 cents for one or $1 for 4 (I went for the latter option - one is not enough!) and the puffs were handed to me in a little paper bag and boy do they feel hot! Not wise to eat them immediately...

So was it any good? It was nice but not something I would see myself having on a regular basis. Biting through the soft doughnut-like exterior, you would instantly feel the warm custard oozing into your mouth giving the puff a sweet vanilla taste. If you've had kaya/coconut jam balls in South East Asia, this is pretty much the same except filled with custard. The puffs kind of made me think of Mum's famous cream puffs which has a custard filling but a different casing. I like Mum's cream puffs - they tend to disappear very quickly at dinner parties! Photos taken of my Emperor's Puff experience:

In the queue for Emperor's Puff on Dixon St in Chinatown

My bag of warm puffs

The golden puff filled with custard

Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

After making several food stops today, I'm FINALLY heading home (I found some kangkung aka water spinach at the market - $2.50 for 2 large bunches!). Boy this warm weather is rather unbearable...the temperature has been sitting around the high 20s most of the week and it's not even summer yet! Despite growing up in Malaysia, I think my body has become accustomed to the Wellington cool weather and frankly, I kind of miss it when it's this hot in Sydney. I have no idea how I'm going to cope with the Australian summer...


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