We’ve gone to Manpuku quite a few times, but we still haven’t tried everything the place has to offer. That’s not so much for lack of opportunity, but lack of desire. You see, Manpuku as an establishment has slowly been going downhill.
When Manpuku first opened, the place was packed all the time. It was fresh, it was clean, the decor was awesome and the food was a novelty. Unfortunately, most of the choices weren’t anything to get excited about, especially for the prices they were charging. Most of it is little better than hawker food.
A few months ago, I’m not sure exactly when, Manpuku’s customer base shrunk to the point that they did away with the charge card system. It used to be that when you arrived you would queue up to wait for seating and to get a charge card. You would use the card to pay for the items you wanted from the various booths inside. Then, before leaving you went through a register check-out lane, kinda like in a grocery store. That’s where you settled your bill. Now, you just walk in and pay at the specific booth you want to eat from, either cash or NETS. If you want to use a credit card you still use the original charge card system. I suppose that system became more of a hassle than it was worth in regards to having extra employees just to ring up the bills and the owner realized it would be more cost effective to have individual booth workers handle their own cash payments.
With the lower patronage comes lower standards it seems. The trays are usually covered in a white grime and the eating utensils still have residue on them when you pick them up. It makes me wonder if they even use washing soap or if they just rinse them with water. I’ve also had trouble communicating with some of the employees lately.
Despite these issues, there are still a few gems to be found there. The ramen from Aoba Hokkaido Ramen is pretty good but we wanted to try something different, so we went to Japanese Sesson Grill, which is in the corner near the MRT tracks.
The food is a bit pricey. Individual kabobs were between 2.50 and 3 bucks apiece, which seems expensive given their size. We settled on having a set meal that came with five skewers, rice and miso soup for 13 SGD. It seemed a fair enough price to pay for what we were getting.
One good thing about Manpuku falling out of public favor is that it’s less crowded and you can actually have a quiet sort of meal there. We went to the very corner, overlooking the MRT station area. It was even a bit cozy feeling there.
The food itself was better than I hoped it would be. It’s nothing to get too excited about but I definitely felt that I’d gotten what I paid for and left satisfied.