Nov 11 2014

Ippudo

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Ippudo is a Japanese ramen restaurant in London. Ippudo comes from Japan, where it first opened in 1985 in Japan’s ramen capital of Hakata by Shigemi Kawahara (who apparently is called the Ramen King). Now Ippudo has over 80 restaurants in London and is also present in Australia, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Taiwan and now in London, their first venture in Europe. Shigemi Kawahara has reinvented the Hakata-style tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen with its signature delicate, creamy broth, which you can get in Ippudo.

Ippudo is located near Tottenham Court Road station and overlooks Kanada-Ya, another tonkotsu style ramen restaurant from Japan, so quite funny to be so close to your competitor, but they could not be more different. Whilst Kanada-Ya is very small and plain looking and you go there for the food, Ippudo feels more trendy with delicious cocktails when you arrive, more spacious and light surroundings. I wanted to get some ramen on a Sunday with my friend Vadim and Ippudo was open, whilst Kanada-Ya was not. When we arrived there was a bit of a queue but we did not have to wait long to be seated.

Kanada-Ya menu is very small and features a few types of ramen and their rice balls, and that’s it. The menu at Ippudo is longer and offers more. We ordered three different starters, Yamitsuki Goma Kyuri, or  Cucumber seasoned with Ippudo’s original sesame oil sauce, Gyoza or Seared Japanese chicken and vegetables dumplings served with soy and vinegar dipping sauce and Hirata Buns with chicken (but you could also have them with pork or vegetables). My lunch buddy Vadim was least impressed with the cucumber, and he thought it just tasted like cucumber and the sesame oil sauce or the spicy salty topping did not make it any more special. It was a cucumber chopped with some garnish, but I did like the flavour of the spicy salty, so I enjoyed it as a nice vegetable dish. Vadim liked the gyozas, I agree they were nice, and we both also very much liked the hirata buns, I thought they were quite authentic.

You could either order ramen on its own or a ramen set which came with a choice of three different rice dishes. We quite wanted to try the rice dishes, so we went for the ramen set. Ippudo offers 4 different types of ramen, 2 of them being vegetarian. The non-vegetarian ramen is either their classic Shiromaru Hakata ramen, or the one we chose, Akamaru Modern or the bolder translation of the original pork broth with homemade thin noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret Umami Dama paste, pork belly chashu, bean sprouts, sesame kikurage mushrooms, spring onions and fragrant garlic oil (you could also have a vegetarian version of this bolder soup). As in all ramen restaurants, Ippudo also offered you different toppings, like the seasoned boiled egg, poached egg, karaka miso, curry ball, etc.

I really liked this ramen. I think taste wise for me this is the nicest ramen I have had in London. I always have the problem of ramen being too heavy in terms of the taste and too strong flavoured and I can rarely finish the whole bowl as the taste is just too much for me, but this ramen had just the right taste for me, and I finished the whole bowl. Vadim also really enjoyed the ramen, and was calling it a “good soup” and giving it compliments as he was eating it.

As part of my ramen set I also ordered ell with rice that also had spring onions and kizami nori, and Vadim ordered the mini curry rice with rice, curry onion, carrot, miso, soy sauce and ginger (you also had a choice of a third rice dish with pork which we did not choose). Eel with rice was nice, although there were only a few pieces of eel there. I liked the curry with rice, although it felt too heavy with all the other dishes we were eating, and sort of unnecessary with the ramen. Vadim did not like it, and compared it to an Indian curry.

For me Ippudo is the best ramen restaurant in London, as it has that mix of trendy starter dishes and ramen that I actually enjoy to eat and which tastes the best for me. Kanada-Ya feels more authentic due to the small space and the feeling as if you are in the middle of Tokyo, but I enjoyed Ippudo slightly more.

Date: 02/ 11/ 14
Price for 2 people, no alcohol, with service charge: £48.38
Location: Tottenham Court Road

Ippudo London on Urbanspoon

Maija rated: 

4.00

Location: 

Ippudo
Central Saint Giles WC2H 8AG
London
United Kingdom
GB
Ippudo Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4