168-174 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Maedaya was the OG izakaya in Melbourne, and to say that I was heartbroken to find that it had closed is an understatement. But its spirit lives on in Udon Izakaya Maedaya – a more casual offering in the CBD with a focus on the eponymous noodles. Unfortunately the successor is very much a downgrade. Instead of a cosy izakaya, you get a much more utilitarian cheap-and-cheerful vibe. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but the cut corners and questionable hygiene (Hello garbage smell at the door! And toilet doors that don’t close properly!) really takes things down a peg. The food also feels a lot more mediocre, and whilst the udon is quite good… it’s not enough to bring me back, not when there’s plenty of other tasty udon elsewhere.
Rating: 11/20 – i miss the OG maedaya :(
Final thoughts: maybe come for a quick udon lunch, but I really wouldn’t bother with anything else. it is cheap though, i’ll give it that.
There’s only a couple of fresh sushi/sashimi options on the list, and frankly that’s not a bad thing, because the Aburi Salmon Roll ($16.8) was ordinary at best. I usually love me some torched salmon, and the California roll is also a plus in my books. But this just didn’t have the freshness or flavour to pull it off.
The Karaage Chicken Shoyu ($8.8, 4pcs) was a tasty if ordinary treat, and doesn’t fall into the trap of being dry or greasy.
Similarly reasonable was the Takoyaki ($6.8, 6pcs), though it could’ve used more sauce in my books.
The Agedashi Tofu Salad ($11.5) was a surprising winner, the fresh veggies coated with an addictive sesame dressing. And the wobbly tofu coated in chewy potato flour is always a treat.
Now this is the undisputed winner for the night. The Assorted Tempura Udon ($16.5) was thick and chewy, served in a clear, umami-heavy broth.
Frustratingly however, the tempura itself was only average. The vegetables weren’t too bad, though occasionally greasy. The batter on the prawn however was dense and stale, and really brought down the overall quality of the dish.
With a menu designed for drinking, it’s unsurprising that the food comes with a hefty selection of Japanese drinks. The Uji Green Tea Umeshu ($8.5) was utterly delicious, the ripe fruit mellowed out by crisp matcha notes.