There's a Top Noodle tucked away in the corner of Market Square. I only found out 10 seconds ago that it's actually a franchise under Sushi Train. Due to the ambiguous logo where their 'T' is a swirl of noodles dangling from a pair of chopsticks, I've heard this restaurant referred to as Sop Noodle or even, Op Noodle.
I went a few times back in the bad old days with high school friends but haven't given Top Noodle another thought till I found a friend that's fanatical about this place. Unconvinced that it's necessarily better than every other Japanese eatery around, I thought I'd give it a crack anyway.
Top Noodle has a small indoor eating area and a larger outdoor area that's a bit like a courtyard... but not really. The cutlery and water is self-serve and you can cart over to your table a little box of condiments to accompany your meal.
The menu's sorted into convenient sections for rice dishes, noodles dishes, curry dishes etc. My favorite thing about Top Noodle is that they have 'mini bowls' which are some of their popular dishes in snack-sized servings. This did me well because I could not, for the life of me, decide on one thing. So I chose 2 small ones. My friend didn't even have to look at the menu because he had been dreaming about the mabo tofu for a week or something.
Food arrived pretty quickly. I felt like such a pig with 2 bowls of food in front of me. The salmon toro bowl is one of my usual picks. I tried to describe it and the best I could do was 'imagine salmon in mince form' which sounds disgusting. An alternative description is that it's a bit like deconstructed salmon sushi. You have the rice, the salmon, the seaweed... but it's all in a bowl. I like it.
I didn't think mabo tofu was a Japanese dish... pretty sure the origin is Eastern Chinese but apparently, Top Noodle does a good one. The verdict was that it was soupier than usual and the flavors, meat and tofu were distributed throughout the bowl, rather than just plopped on top a mountain of rice.
Top Noodle is one of the more reliable Japanese eateries around Sunnybank, along with maybe 7-8. If you're down South and have a craving for casual Japanese, it's not a bad choice but I think around the CBD or West, there's a few more good ones in the game.