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.
Store 223A (external entrance on Victoria Ave), Westfield Chatswood NSW
Tel: 9410 2774
Opening Hours: 7 days lunch & dinner