Now that I’ve started this project, every casual catch up with a mate at my local is transformed into a food adventure!
There is no place too ordinary to be blogged about, but I thought posting about Zenya would be pushing the boundaries of “ordinary”. It’s just our go-to place when we’re in Eastwood and don’t feel like Korean or Chinese BBQ. And I always assumed it was another Japanese-but-run-by-Koreans restaurant – I mean, it’s Eastwood we’re talking about here. To my surprise, Zenya has made a few notable appearances in the press and food blogs (Even ranked #2 Sydney ramen by Grab Your Fork in 2009) and is actually NOT owned by Koreans. Authentic Japanese noodles right in my hood and I didn’t even know it.
Pleasantly not-busy on a weekday evening. I sat down to peruse the menu and I noticed something new.
Tan Tan Men? The name rings bells – I think this is what I usually order at Ichi Ban Boshi. I’m not 100% sure though so I summon the waitress and ask her: “What’s Tan Tan Men?”
Waitress: “Uhhh… ummmm Tan Tan Men is ahhh… like a … ramen?”
Me: “…” *unimpressed face*
Poor thing then scuttled away to ask someone else, who kindly explained to me that it was a slightly spicy ramen with sesame and peanut flavour, topped minced pork. After embarrassing both the waitress and my co-diners, I couldn’t not order it, so it was one Tan Tan Men please. I’m a super serious food blogger now. Gone are the days of getting “the regular”. I’ve gotta be a menu maverick – my moves are dangerous and unpredictable.
Tonight I realised that being in “blogger mode” really gets in the way of dining etiquette. I don’t care how hungry you are. Once the food hits the table, I’m putting it under the best light and taking 100 photos of it.
I didn’t even realise what I was doing until Matt told me off: “Let the poor man eat his food!!” And I’m only using my iPhone at this stage… imagine how obnoxious I’ll be when I get serious and start bringing a DSLR to dinner. I’m going to lose friends over this aren’t I….
I begged Matt to be able to take this photo. One shot only he said. So I had to make it a good one. This is a “mini” donburi (not that mini), ordered in a set that comes with a “mini” ramen (also not that mini), a drink AND a scoop of ice cream for $16.80. That’s such good value and you get the best of both worlds!
The Ton-Katsu Ramen ($14.80). This is boy’s food. Deep fried pork on top of fat fat fatty pork fat broth?? I’ve never been brave enough to try this because I know it’ll put me in a week-long coma.
This is my Tan Tan Men…. uh clearly not the most photogenic bowl of noodles in the world! However, what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for the flavour. This is UMAMI at its best. SpicySesamePeanuttyPork goodness. Interesting fact I learnt when I was telling a friend about my Tan Tan Men adventure today:
Friend: You know Tan Tan Men is actually a Japanese version of a Shanghainese noodle dish?
Me: Really? Actually… the flavours are quite similar to these noodles I really like at Din Tai Fung… what are they called again… oh yeah… “Dan Dan Noodles”. Hold on… “Dan-Dan”, “Tan-Tan” IT ALL MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW!!!!!!!!!
Wow. Its like realising your best mate at work and your best mate from school are actually brother and sister.
If you’re not near Eastwood, I’m not sure if these noodles are worth travelling for but if you’re in the neighbourhood, Zenya is definitely worth hitting up for some tasty tasty noodles that stand up to any ramen offering you’d find in the city. However, a new rival ramen joint has opened up in Eastwood (Ichiraku on Hillview Road) which I should check out soon to see how it measures up! Battle of the local ramen… stomach says bring it on! (bridal diet gently weeps)
Zenya Noodle Bar
217 Rowe Street
Eastwood NSW 2122