Oh, this is why it’s so highly rated…
I find restaurant ratings on websites interesting. What makes for a high rating? A low one? Do you have to discount the best and the worst? How does the tall poppy syndrome relate to restaurant ratings in Australia?
On a weekday, I wanted to treat myself to somewhere new for lunch, and Zomato gives Mappen a clearly higher rating than everywhere else. What’s the beef? Well, I can see that it’s popular because it’s cheap. Really cheap. Then: noodles. Everyone loves noodles, and here the specialty is udon. While I am kind of obsessed with ramen, I have to say I love udon too, the chewy texture of the thick noodles, how the fresh noodles almost shine. When I was a kid, my Mom would take us to the Japanese festivals in Vancouver, and they would serve big steaming bowls of udon.
I reckoned that a bit of spice would be nice, and that I could avoid the volcano bowl, and just go for spicy. The tonkatsu red sounded reasonable enough. Was I ever wrong! It was still too spicy. However, by just eating the delicious noodles, with pork, and a soft-boiled egg, with a sprinkling of scallions and some tempura crumbs, and not sipping too much of the soup, I was just fine.
And did I mention it was only $9 for the bowl, plus another buck for the egg. They also have an entire array of tasty deep-fried things… so when I have a bigger appetite, I’ll try those out too. And… going back to my original question: why do restaurants get high ratings? Well, in this case, it’s really tasty food, at a really cheap price, in a fun casual atmosphere and an authentic vibe. Places that are fancier or seen as trendy might get knocked down, as tall poppies get their heads lopped off in Australia, but Mappen’s a humble place, and I can understand why it’s topping the ratings!