Although for me, sushi and sashimi reign supreme when it comes to Japanese food, I wouldn’t mind opting for a hot bowl of u-don or rice on a cool autumn day. What I like about Manpuku is that they offer humongous portions at affordable prices without sacrificing the quality of both their food and service. Manpuku is located inside the food court of Village By The Grange, near OCAD University and Art Gallery of Ontario.
Manpuku can be easily identified with their wrap-around glass windows and interesting logo – an angry looking doll :D When you first step inside Manpuku, you’ll feel like you’ve genuinely entered a restaurant in Japan. Quite distinctive for their authenticity, I find that they’re able to create an atmosphere where customers can associate themselves with the casual, inexpensive eateries found in the fast-paced cities of Japan. Aside from a U-shaped counter in front where customers can interact with the staff and peek into the kitchen, there is a fair bit of space to the left for a more comfortable dining area. I grabbed a seat at the counter where I could read the menu by simply lifting my head up, as well as having my eyes glued on the takoyaki, as they slowly cook in the grill at the back. The guy in the photo was grilling my takoyaki :D
Manpuku offers a tasty selection of comfort dishes like Curry Don (curry with rice), Ochazuke (rice in a tea broth), U-don (soup noodle), takoyaki (grilled octopus balls), and custard pudding. Additionally, they have a wide variety of Japanese alcohol available, with familiar names such as Saporro, Kirin, and Asahi. I started off with a Shigure Don – rice with thin short plate beef and onion in a special sauce ($6.49). The thin slices of beef were delicious with the addition of their special sauce. The sauce was tasty yet not overpowering; allowing the beef to shine as it should. They also managed to grasp just the right amount of sauce needed; leaving the rice moist and not drained in the sauce itself. Although this Shigure Don was already very flavourful, I couldn’t help but to add a few dashes of the famous Japanese spice. It’s so colourful and taste wise, heavenly. This was such a satisfying dish that kept my stomach so jolly XD
After a 25 minute wait or so, my delish Takoyaki ($4.99) arrived. It’s one of my favourite izakaya foods. The basic Takoyaki is made with a pancake-like batter with a piece of baby octopus inserted in the centre, along with other ingredients for flavour, grilled on a special hot plate. Wow, describing Manpuku’s as being cooked perfectly is an understatement. The outside a little crispy, soft and piping hot on the inside. I guess it’s a preference thing when it comes to whether people like their takoyaki fully cooked or partially cooked. As for me, I like mine gooey on the inside and so hot that it burns my tongue – I love that (lol). The ones I’ve tasted in Japan were also gooey and not perfectly round. These takoyaki were garnished with a drizzle of takoyaki sauce, sweet mayonnaise, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), and aonori (green laver). All of the flavours and textures worked well together; nothing negative to say about Manpuku’s takoyaki.
Lastly, dessert time! Because they were out of pudding (sad face), I tried their Castella (Kasutera) instead ($3.99). I didn’t expect such a huge portion so needless to say, after stuffing myself with all those carbs and protein, I was beyond full. The cake was light and fluffy, so finishing it wasn’t a problem for me. The honey was a great complement since it added some natural sweetness and cut out the dryness. On top were some sifted matcha powder – I guess I don’t have to mention that it’s one of my favourite things in the whole world? ;)
The staff at Manpuku are very friendly and inviting, with the typical “irrashimase” and “arigatou gozaimashita” greetings. The place definitely has an authentic Japanese vibe to it. I wouldn’t mind returning for their Ochazuke one day ;D
105 McCaul Street