Housed in one of Manly Corso's little arcades, this little Japanese noodle house does a steady trade of well fed Northern Beachers. When we lived in Manly, we used to walk past this eatery, always curious but never quite getting the chance to eat there instead partaking of Manly's many other restaurants. Not tonight though, we're here, we're hungry and we're ready to eat Ramen!
There are two waitresses hurrying and flurrying about tonight so we seat ourselves in the arcade section and peruse the menus laid out on the table. I immediately gravitate towards the Mabou tofu ramen ($11.50), remembering, very fondly, the delicious mapo tofu from Iron Chef Chen Kenichi. Of course I know it won't be anywhere near as good as his but a girl can reminisce can't she? We take the easy route here and order the Bento box ($16) which consists of your choice of two of the following: Tonkatsu (deep fried pork), Shoga-yaki (sliced pork ginger sauce), Ebi-fry (deep fried prawn), Yakiniku (pan fried sliced beef), Teriyaki chicken or Fish or Karaage (deep fried chicken); with salad, rice, miso soup and gyoza. I select the pork with ginger and the chicken karaage. We opt to try their takoyaki ($6.50) and their Jipang Epi prawn roll ($4).
Oddly Jipang has no bathroom so I'm off to the nearby Ivanhoe to avail myself of their facilities and by the time I am back minutes later, all of our food is arriving at once. The waitress thanks us for waiting and places our food on the table. The takoyaki is tried first, sprinkled with thinly sliced matchsticks of dried seaweed. They're smaller in size than at Ramen Kan but more in number with 7 on our plate. They're slightly crispy on the outside and softish on the inside but as they're quite small, they're not as beautifully squishy inside as others we've tried. They're also needing a bit more okonomiyaki and mayo sauce. Not bad by any means, but not as good as Ramen Kan's.
The ebi prawn roll is next, its very fresh and crispily good if a little homemade looking with the rice being packed loosely in parts. Still the taste is there and I manage to cajole my husband into give me his extra pieces.
He's too busy contending with his mabou tofu ramen which is blisteringly hot. Even though it has sat there while we ate our entrees it remains mouth burningly hot and my husband tries to fan it furiously enticed by its delicious aroma. After a good 5 minutes of blowing and using a smaller bowl, he manages to get some of an edible temperature. He's enjoying the chili broth enormously so I try some. The noodles are thicker, much like Ryo's ramen which we both like but they're softer than Ryo's and I like my noodles to have a bit of a bite to it. The chili soup is heartwarmingly good with the smooth soft tofu and the pork mince providing texture and flavour. My husband doesn't like the mince as much finding that the texture interferes with his enjoyment but I disagree, I like all of the components. Although as expected, it isn't a patch on Iron Chef Chen Kenichi's Mapo tofu!
My bento box's meat offering of pork slices with ginger is very, very flavoursome and I am enjoying it so much I could easily order this in a dish by itself. The Chicken karaage is hot and freshly cooked but it could do with some mayo or sauce. As it is, I drag each piece over what little okonomiyaki sauce there is left over from the takoyaki and this gives it the much needed moisture. The salad, dressed with lemon and olive oil, is a tad disappointing (lettuce, cucumber and tomato without any seaweed) but the gyoza are very good though, with just the right amount of meat to cabbage, without being bitter from overuse of cabbage.
Feeling warm from the ramen and stomach expanding meal, we exit stage left, to the cool breeze of Manly beach now that the sun has set and the ocean breeze beckons with its cool hand.
Jipang Japanese Noodle House
37-39 The Corso Manly 2095
Tel: +61 (02) 9977 4436
Open Tuesday-Sunday 11:30am-9pm