Location: 105 McCaul St #29, Toronto, ON M5T 2X4
Price Range: $
Manpuku is a tiny eatery hidden inside the food court under OCAD, famous for its authentic and inexpensive Japanese cuisine. I have been here several times and to be honest, over time I find the food to be ah-okay and some dishes can come out as bland. But when it came down to it, you can always count on this place for a hearty meal, leave with a full stomach and all for less than $10 a meal.
From the outside, the restaurant looks quite small, but upon entering you will notice it’s quite spacious! With that said, it’s better to come here in small groups, and I don’t think they accept reservations either. You can check out the main menu here, however they have smaller menus with specials of the day.
Ok like… I admit this dish doesn’t look that appetizing. If you don’t know what Takowasa is, it’s a bowl of chopped raw octopus smothered in a “pickled” wasabi sauce. The octopus was chewy, but hard, slimy (in a good way) and full of wasabi heat. I doubt the restaurant used fresh wasabi for this dish, as the octopus was extremely spicy and left this “burning” aftertaste in my mouth. So really, I wish they would have served this with seaweed, as the salty seaweed would help to cut down the spiciness. Overall, it’s not bad as it is a very refreshing dish, but if you don’t like that hot and burning taste, or spicy food in general then I wouldn’t recommend ordering the Takowasa.
My friend ordered the Chawan Mushi and it was quite different, in terms of texture, from a chawan mushi that I had previously. Chawan mushi is an egg-custard dish, and when made properly the egg should have a silky and barely set, or quivering texture. To see how the texture should be, please check out this video from Cooking with dog :). The Chawan Mushi from Manpuku was really watery and too bland for my taste, I don’t recommend it at all.
My friend ordered this as her main and while I didn’t get to try, she seemed to have enjoyed it. Interestingly, she said the hotate rice tasted just like an okonoyami on top of rice. Also, there weren’t many pieces of scallop, anyhow it was $9, I don’t think you can expect much :p.
I had this as my main and it’s Manpuku’s signature curry sauce on a bed of rice, with toppings such as pan-fried salami, ketchup, mayo – sounds like a weird combination but somehow it works! The curry had a thicker texture than other curries I have had before, and the ketchup sweetened up the curry. The salami provided some saltiness and spicy to the dish, which in turn added a great depth of flavor that’s unique to the curry :).
As stated above, I have been here so many times that I’m not sure if I will be returning. Nonetheless, I appreciate that Manpuku serves different variations of Japanese cuisine. If you are looking for alternatives to the abundance of sushi restaurants in downtown Toronto, or on a budget and looking for a quick meal, I suggest you give this place a try and let me know how it turns out!