The formula: contemporary Japanese setting + touch screen ordering panels + cheap but delicious bowls of squiggly udon almost, NEVER fails. Hana Hana is the new self-serve noodle/udon joint in town, subtly located on Thomas St in Chinatown. Head down here quick before word gets out and it becomes crowded with crazy lines everyday like Mappen.
As you walk in, three touch-screen panels greet you in response: you pick what you want and then print the ticket!
As this lovely picture indicates, the process is quite systematic and simple! You order through the screen, print your ticket, pick up a tray and plate and then head down to choose your Tempura or Hot Dishes. Cold Dishes, Desserts and Drink options follow before you grab your Main Dish and pay!
I came to realise that there seemed to be alot more options here than Mappen, which always gets me excited. From Udon, Soba, Ramen to Rice and Okonomiyaki Dishes (Japanese Pancakes), there is surely an option that would entice you! There's even a MINI (1/2 size) tab to cater for those with incredibly small appetities or by stark contrast, an uncontrollable greed to order everything :P Believe me, I was tempted...
The Tempura Bar had the usual choices you'd expect such as prawn, fish and chicken, although in this instance I felt that Mappen seemed to have more options.
The Cold Dishes were in this cute little fridge and isn't it nice that they have salads and mini bowls of seawood and sashimi? Both M & I opted for an Egg ($1) each because no udon is good without an egg cracked in.
A colourful array of cans sit neatly in the open fridge and I must say, they have quite a good selection of drinks there! There is also a water tank beside the fridge, in which you can feel free to help yourself to a cup.
M's Warm Beef Udon ($6.50) were very nice and bouncy with a good chew to each bite. The broth was light yet tasty and the soft gooey boiled egg was just the cherry on top!
I decided to try something new and ordered the Warm Spicy Chicken Udon ($6.50) which turned out to be quite interesting. If you're not a fan of spicy flavours and prefer the traditional udon with its clean broth, this is probably not the best option for you. Nevertheless, I thought it was quite refreshing to 'spice up' my usual choices. :P
We also ordered the Ebi-Chilli Okonomiyaki ($8.90), which I must say, I wasn't really a big fan of. Then again, I am quite biased as I was never that into Japanese Pancakes so to speak. M loved the dish despite it being so chilli that he had to gulp down two glasses of water post demolition. I guess I just felt that there was too much of that Takoyaki sauce and it became really overwhelming for my tastebuds? Regardless, M said he was quite happy with the amount of seafood on the plate and managed to finish most of it all by himself.
My poor attempt at a better picture of this dish...
It would be totally wrong to pass up some fried goodness! My favourite was definitely the Fish Tempura ($3) but the Ebi Tempura ($3) wasn't too bad either.
For a relatively good feast, the bill came to a total of $29.90 for two.
Definitely a great place for UNI students to check out - or anyone really, who wants a quick, affordable and delicious meal.
As you leave, make sure you take your dirty plates and tray back to the shelf area because then you will receive a loyalty card and stamp. 5 stamps=free bowl of udon as I recall!
Overall, I think Hana Hana is great for casual Japanese dining and dare I say, even better than Mappen due to its wide range of selections and lack of lines! The location is not as busy as you'd expect but do take the time to seek this place out as I'm sure it won't disappoint :)
5/209 Thomas St
Sydney NSW 2000