I have been eating at Oiden Bowl Bar now for about three years, if you follow my blogging on social media you may have noticed I am a food and film blogger, reviewer and critic. I started as a movie critic about ten years ago now and my other website Salty Popcorn has nine writers now and besides movie reviews we also cover book reviews. But part of my movie reviewing is watching a lot of media screenings in the CBD of Sydney, with the majority of them being in the Event Cinemas on George St. Screenings start between 630 and 7pm and before every screening I grab dinner so I can just go home afterwards and crash. Conveniently less than 100m from the Event Cinemas just down George St and in the Sky View Shopping Plaza is a hive of Asian venues and one of them in particular I fell in love with. That would be Oiden Bowl Bar.
Oiden Bowl Bar is a Japanese cafeteria styled fast food joint that has a hawker laneway vibe to it, it is nestled among two other venues that sell the same style of food and the one to the left of it literally is a mirror image and I am sure must be owned by the same people, it is this odd alternate version of Oiden that looks the same but is different in colors and is reversed. I have eaten at all three of them but cannot go past Oiden anymore, it is my venue and it is always packed, and it is mostly packed with people of the native heritage and you know when you see Japanese people feasting in a Japanese venue in Sydney it is going to be pretty damn fine food and it NEVER disappoints.
It may look haphazard and at times a little messy for what Westerners are used to but trust me the food is sublime, and due to its ridiculously cheap pricing is a staple for Sydney students and poor people like me that just want a bloody awesome cheap meal for next to nothing. I always eat a bowl of food and get something from the fried section as an additional snack and my entire meal is usually under $10-. And an odd suggestion from a fatso like me who likes to pig out – order the SMALL bowl – it is more than enough and allows you to have a snack from the fried goodies (beef croquette or the shrimp stick are my picks of choice).
Sadly I cannot show you a vast array of photos of all their dishes because I have two dishes I always choose from with the Ontama Teriyaki Chicken winning nine times out of ten. It is rice, a lumping of teriyaki chicken on top, some spring onions and then the “ontama” – this is a simply a soft boiled egg, which is placed on top, you give it a poke with your chopsticks and the gooey egg runs over it all as extra sauce. An incredibly simple dish that they make so well. My other choice is the Ontama Karaage Chicken (below), same as the teriyaki but with karaage chicken instead, also divine but nothing on that sugar filled teriyaki sauce.
They do a vast menu and I notice a lot of the Japanese regulars like the beef curries, I tried it once and enjoyed it but I know the teriyaki chicken will be upset if I do not have it when I visit. What I need to do is make friends with some of the Japanese regulars and have a feast trying all the dishes I never order.
Oh and one thing of note, unless you want a special drink of some sort from the fridge, or they also have some iced tea in a dispenser on the counter, don’t worry about it, they have a filtered, chilled water tap and cups for you to help yourself. I love this and another thing I really like is that you return your own plates on your tray to shelves next to the kitchen so they can be washed, it is the least you can do for such an awesome cheap meal in a fantastic place.
Oiden Bowl Bar is no Testuyas but isn’t trying to be and I am glad for it, it’s this small venue I found and am proud to call it one of my favourites, it makes me feel like a student again eating a cheap meal, every meal is like discovering the Mi Goreng Noodles packets for the first time, blissfully affordable and a dish you feel content with every time. I will be eating at this place for years to come.
If you are reading this and have been there many times, what should I try next and can it match the delightful Ontama Teriyaki Chicken?