Makanai Chatswood

Finally, after the ever-mounting number of Japanese eateries I’ve eaten at on Sydney’s lower North Shore, Chatswood finally has its own ramen joint! Makanai occupies the Westfield shop space vacated by Korean bakery chain Hello Happy (and Starbucks before them) and has brought with them not only ramen, but also a front display window impressively stocked with about ten varieties of onigiri on a daily basis.

This popular rice ball snack, available in even convenience stores all across Japan, is presented here in convenience store triangular form with plastic layered between the rice and sheet of nori to prevent sogginess. The sheet of plastic is simply pulled out from either side as instructed prior to eating and – bingo – you have crispy nori to envelope your ball of rice. The ‘Wagyu & Ginger’ variety I try on this occasion is light on ginger (which suits the mildly ginger-averse me just fine) and dotted with tasty beef mince throughout.

Another visit exposes us to the joys of ‘Pork gyoza’ – a seafood variant is also available, according to the cute, wood panel menus – with their thin skins and crispy bottoms from pan-frying, another one of those things which is hard to find around these parts.

The ramen, of course, has to be sampled but Monsieur Poisson chooses the ‘Butter corn ramen’ (presumably as it contains the wonderful combination of butter AND corn) which is only available in a miso or salt soup base. Most ramen options allow for choosing between those two and a tonkotsu base, but porcine goodness will have to await another time for us.

A warmer turn sees us trying the ‘Hiyashi udon with tempura’ where cold udon are dipped into a cold broth and served alongside various tempura. The batter is a little thick, I’m sad to say, and not as crisp nor fluffy as I would have liked. But Makanai isn’t all about the noodles, with plenty of rice and bento options on the menu as well. The ‘Chicken Katsu Don’, although overloaded with onion, is satisfying with its warming combination of crunchy crumbed chicken, sauce and fluffy egg on rice.

The ‘Karaage chicken curry’ is most generous with the curry, but leaves you wanting more rice when there seems but a small island of it surround by a sea of sauce. There are only five pieces of chicken which seems a little lacking as well. However overall the food is flavoursome and I can’t wait to go back and try more of their onigiri.

Makanai Chatswood
Store 223A (external entrance on Victoria Ave), Westfield Chatswood NSW
Tel: 9410 2774

Opening Hours:  7 days  lunch & dinner

Makanai Chatswood on Urbanspoon

happy eating!


  1. I've walked past this place a few times recently so it's great to see a review...I like the bowls on the way by way of decoration.

  2. ooh I had lunch here the other day. The onigiri are pretty tasty!

  3. I love the interior! There's a place in the city that sells those handrolls with the plastic between the rice and the seaweed to stop it getting soggy. I feel like such a loser when I can't seem to pull out the plastic in one swift movement to have the seaweed automatically wrap the roll!!

  4. I've always wanted to try onigiri wrapped like that...just to play with the wrapping ;) haha.... The food looks delicious- I must try this place next time we visit Chatswood!

  5. I was thinking about karaage chicken this morning! OMG, I'm so hungry now! And I'm not sad to see Hello Happy go; it didn't strike a chord with me much. I wonder if the Macquarie Centre one is still operating?

  6. I love onigiri! My friend had one of those plastic wrapping machines for onigiri and she would always bring them to school, good thing we always shared our lunch in a group :) mm whenever I see butter corn ramen I always get it, can't beat the taste of lots of melty butter lol. hehe same goes for oyako don ^^

  7. oh i love onigiri!!! havent eaten at chatswood for a while, this might be a good reason to go! must try next time i am there :)

  8. Onigiri! It has been way too many years since I have been to Chastswood. Going to have to have a shopping/eating day there soon. Love the bowls on the wall.

  9. Great review! The bento boxes there are quite good too, so cram-packed with savoury goodness :)

  10. Hey MissPiggy, the bowls are a definite feature as soon as you spot upon entering the store.

    Hey Jacq, I really wanted to try the newly-added dry beef curry onigiri the last time I was there, but couldn't fit it in with all the other food we'd ordered =(

    Hey April, blame it on the design! Because you know if it's designed "properly" that it should be a breeze to remove *wink*

    Hey Von, same! Not sure I've spotted onigiri wrapped like this anywhere else in Sydney before, actually.

    Hey joey, the Macquarie Centre Hello Happy is no more - replaced by Taiwanese dessert house ZenQ!

    Hey Vivian, oh my, where can you get a onigiri wrapping machine from?!?

    Hey gastronomous anonymous, onigiri are definitely an untapped Japanese food market in these parts!

    Hey Sara, lots of Japanese food around these parts if you're looking for a fix =D

    Hey champagnetwilight, thanks for the tip - have yet to get around to trying any of their bentos!

  11. Absolutely love this place's tantanmen - had it 3 times now and nowhere near sick of it! Ryo's was #1 for me for ages but this manages to pip it - just.

    I had the prawn katsu curry yesterday and it was awesome, but one more prawn would have been nice.

    Overall my new favourite #1 ramen house :)

  12. mmmmmmmmmmmm these look good! Can't complain about having another ramen joint in Sydney!

  13. Hey chylld, I've yet to try the tantanmen here so will have to give it a try.

    Hey catty, heheh means more choice, right?


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