So I walked past this place before with Wendy L and she was amazed I hadn't tried this place yet, I asked if it was new? A shocking "No!" followed, it has been here many years.
So, on the last bank holiday Monday of May, we originally wanted to go to Ten Ten Tai but this place and Kulu Kulu were both shut, and I remembered this one! Yes! It's open! But it only takes cash, is that ok? Yes! Food please!
Having looked at the menu it was a toss up between Ittenbari Ramen and the Miso Ramen. I picked Ittenbari and the other 3 people picked Miso Ramen. Curious, because the miso ramen contained marmite! Marmite? In ramen????
Anyhow, I REALLY LOVED the stock in the Ittenbari ramen. It didn't have an overpowering taste of MSG so I wasn't gagging for water, but really wanted to drink the whole thing, except I was full from a snack earlier in the afternoon! The noodles were nice, felt like it could have had more meat in the bowl, and the half egg is nowhere as nice as the one from Bone Daddies.
I tried a bit of the stock in the Miso ramen but couldn't really taste the marmite. Hmmm. My friends also tried the salmon salad, which had some good chewy seaweedy vegetables inside, they were quite nice with the salad sauce.
We did order the sushi but I didn't try them, was too full! The sushi looked like a good size, but they were quite dear also.
A comment is that the ventilation isn't that good in the restaurant. Further in there was a fan, but where we were, there was nothing. We were getting a bit overheated in there, even though it was rainy freezing outside!
Ah well, another place to go for ramen, yay!
Quick, good Ramen place that was an oasis when a late night bowl of soup was needed.
We took it to go-- I think it would have been better had we ate there-- piping hit is always best with ramen.
If you are in soho, or Piccadilly in need of a tasty bite then give it a shot.
I went into Ittenbari with the lowest expectations, and don't think I would have gone if it had been my choice. The place looks a bit run down from the outside and I wasn't convinced, but my friend insisted so we tried it out.
All that being said, I was pleasantly surprised by Ittenbari. Judging by some of the other reviews, I may be the only person who got sushi at a known ramen joint, but the sushi was actually very good (albeit on the pricey end). I had tuna sushi which was 6 pieces of nigiri style sushi. The sushi was very fresh and thoroughly enjoyable.
Would recommend this place if in your area and maybe I'll even go back to try out the ramen!
I learned of this restaurant from a fellow Yelper. It's lovely. Very casual. Great staff.
I ordered the Seafood and fried ramen noodles, which came with prawns,fried noodles, snowpeas,kamoboku
bamboo shoots, japanese cabbage and squid. It's a hearty meal and worth the £10.50. I only wish they offered vegetarian broth. I asked the waiter to leave the pork off which he did.
The noodles start out crispy but get nice and al dente from the warmth of the seafood & veg topping.
There were lots of Japanese people eating there, which is always a good sign. And I did hear one Japanese fellow say in Japanese to his companion that his soup was good.
The noodles are Osaka style cuisine.
Next time I'll try the veggie gyoza as well. Recommended!
If you are Japanese or you've been to japan you know it's not proper...
They add 15percent of service charge without mention.
And CASH ONLY.
Looked at the yelp reviews, looked decent. However, the everything served was mediocre. I had the ittenbari ramen and the egg was actually half cold, and partially medium boiled and hard boiled. The ingredients were alright, but weren't anything more than the average few things shops throw into ramen. The gyoza fillings were soft and were a far cry from the consistency of gyoza you could find on the streets of Japan. The edamame was fine, but they're beans, nobody can get that wrong. All in all the dinner did it's job, it got me full. I would recommend this place for a cheap (depends on your definition) enough meal in that area that's tasty enough, but don't expect to be blown away ( unless it's your first time eating japanese food).
I think Ittenbari is deserving of review #100. I'm a regular at very few places, but Ittenbari is my go-to choice when I'm in Central London and feeling undecided. There is nothing glamourous about Ittenbari. Behind the noren (doorway curtain) is a space tiled in sanitorium white and squeezing into the tables requires a rather inelegant set of movements.
The menu is pretty simple - I generally go for either a ramen or a curry. There is sushi here, but I'm pretty sure that they'd rather not have to bother at all and only serve it because of the expectations of the UK public. The curry portions are really generous, and there's a choice of kara-age, or your standard pork, chicken, or, er, spinach and cheese. Personally not tried the latter option, but I like the kara-age.
There are three varieties of ramen - Ittenbari special, Miso, and Shoryu. There's also a dry seafood option. I generally go for the Ittenbari or Miso as they're a bit more flavourful than the Shoryu. Now, Bone Daddies it is not, but the flavour is pretty good and they get the noodles right every time. The pork is also soft which is a bonus. The Ittenbari and Shoryu are both £9, with Miso being £11.50. For an extra £2, you can go deluxe (extra pork and egg) which, predictably, I do every time.
Logically, this is not a 5 star restaurant. It's not cheap cheap and the ramen's not the best in town, but there're just so many things to like. The staff are always nice (and the ramen staff know my face pretty well, haha). I like how you can pop in, sit at the ramen bar and be in and out in about 15 minutes with no hassle. It is cash only, but I usually make sure I take out some at Piccadilly Circus beforehand, so it's not too much trouble. I think the main thing which tips this over the edge for me is this little side dish: chashu-don. It's £3 for a decent-sized portion of soft chashu pork and rice with a bit of the braising sauce. That, my friends, is the world's best accompaniment, bar none. Ittenbari, I love you.
Disclaimer: I am not a ramen expert and haven't done the ramen pilgrimage through London.
What's to like? great salad with salmon and seaweed, good goyza, tasty soup.
What's missing? Cold beer (my Asahi was warm) and a better atmosphere. It was a bit lacking in ambiance or vibe which is an important sell.
But nothing like a good ramen (with an awesome egg) to sort you out on a Friday eve.
Cute little ramen joint! Though the table was a bit on the dirty side... but of course I had my own hand sanitizer so it's all OK (wish they had better chopsticks -- the bamboo disposable chopsticks are much better for ramen!)
Now the food. I had the Ittenbari Ramen. The broth was flavorful. I couldn't exactly taste the clams and seafood they claimed they put in there. I would've liked to try it without MSG. The egg and ramen were average. The pork slice was very tender and it's giant. I can't imagine ordering the plus size portion because the average was more than sufficient.
Overall, I think I still prefer tonkosu ramen at Shoyru or Bone Daddy in that neck of the hood. but ittenbari wasn't bad at all! It also helped that there was this guy with super cute dimples sitting a few tables across from me while I was devouring my ramen. So I'm giving this place an A-OK! :)
I appreciated that as soon as we walked in they pre-notified us that it was cash only.
I was not a huge fan of the Ittenbari ramen broth as it was a bit greasy. The gyoza filling texture was a bit chunky from an overload of vegetables.The chicken katsu was the highlight of the evening for sure. Perfectly fried and juicy with some yummy curry sauce.
Ittenbari Ramen- Clear soup made from chicken and vegetable, blended with seafood extract (mussels, scallops, shrimps, bonito), boiled pork slices, half egg
Chicken Katsu Curry- Japanese curry with deep fried chicken
Gyoza- Grilled pork dumpling
My 2nd Favourite Ramen place after Shoryu Ramen down the road from here. I'm no connoisseur but if I do become one later this place will be the reason.
I hated Japanese cuisine - no spice too much water and they feel the need to eat with sticks. There will be a moment when it strikes you that there can be tasty filling stuff served in that fashion as well.
There will be that one place that convinces you of that. That place for me is this.
We came here after work on Friday, because we felt like a good ramen and Ittenbari was one of our favourites. We ordered pork gyozas and ramen, but both were disappointing. The gyoza were all stuck together and the filling was average. There was nothing special about the ramen broth. It just tasted like supermarket stock to me. In my opinion, the broth makes the ramen, so this drove my average opinion of the ramen.
I may still come here for the katsu curry, as I enjoyed that last time. But we are changing our default ramen restaurant now.
After the record breaking temperatures in the UK last week, you would have thought that I would have the disposition of Eeyore as torrential rain opened up on me as I set off for the Ramen 3.0 UYE. However, as the indomitable organiser of these London Ramen events, Josy A said, the cold and rain merely made it perfect 'ramen weather'!
I met with Josy and Yinnie C at Ben & Jerry's in Leicester Square where they had just picked up their free Ben & Jerrys ice cream cone. Yes, you read right. Ben & Jerrys give free ice cream away once a year!
Being the conscientious organiser that she is, Josy had already tried out Ittenbari and was able to direct us to the white sign at the Regent Street end of Brewer Street. Having been assured by the restaurant staff that she could book a table upstairs, multiple phone call attempts hadn't been picked up. However, fortuitously, virtually our whole party arrived together and we were seated immediately.
The menu is quite short and our target, the ramen, currently comes in 2 flavours - shio, which has a seafood based soup and shoyu, which has a soy based soup. Unlike tonkatsu ramen, which is served at my current favourite ramen restaurant Cocoro, the soups here aren't boiled for hours with pork bones and so remain light and clear. The noodle bowls come in 2 sizes and the portions are generous and if you're really feeling piggy, you can opt for kaedama, where they add an extra ball of noodles to your remaining soup at the end
I opted for a big helping shio ramen this time and was pleased when a large bowl (nothing like getting drenched in the spring rain in London to get the appetite going!) of noodles arrived. The pork chashu was cut in 3 generous slices and the boiled egg arrived with perfect just-set glistening yolk. The soup of course couldn't have the depth of flavour one gets with the hours of boiling involved in making tonkatsu ramen but it was tasty.I have to agree with Vicky L's suspicion about MSG though as I was quite thirsty for a few hours afterwards.
Our kara age was nice - moist chicken breast meat in a crunchy coating given a nice tart boost by a squeeze of lemon. Sadly, we didn't get to pass judgement on the gyoza as it never arrived despite 2 reminders from Josy in perfect Japanese! Generally, the service was friendly but a bit Fawlty Towers. After eating there, I can understand why the booking telephone line was never picked up
Compared to my favourite tonkatsu ramen at Cocoro, the chashu is better - larger slices and more succulent and the egg is perfection. However, the soup doesn't have the same depth as the tonkatsu soup. There's a place for both types of ramen in my heart and stomach and Ittenbari does have the added advantage of cheaper ramen and no £20 minimum charge that you have at Cocoro.
Thanks, Josy for organising a great UYE. Ra ra ramen!
You know you're on to a winner when there's a massive queue reaching out the door all the time that you're there. Though I'm quite struck by Jeremy L's report of being ushered to an empty part of the restaurant after finally having made it to the front of the queue.. Anyways:
I'm not an expert on Ramen, more someone seeking to learn about its mysterious ways through osmosis and the far more knowledgeable company of Yelp's Ramen Club, many of whom have posted reviews here too (Yee Gan, Yinnie, Josy..). So you may wish to peruse their reviews for more considered views on the quality of the ramen to be enjoyed here. With that in mind:
I liked the ramen here. By that, I mean it was better than the ramen I had at Nagomi at Ramen 2.0. I also liked the option to re-stock with noodles for a mere £1.50, something I took full advantage of. As someone long frustrated with the small portions served as standard of pasta and its various cousins, I greatly appreciated this option to double the carb element without doubling the price. That meant I left Ittenbari sated, rather than (as with Nagomi), straight for another eatery.
It wasn't without its faults though. Chief amongst these was an unheard of minimum spend limit for paying on card - £20! I repeat: twenty quid! Wtf? I thought £10 was the worst it got. Apparently not. On top of that, the service was slightly scatty - not too bad, but could have been better.
Still, I enjoyed my experience and would certainly return. Once I'd stopped by a cash machine.
Ramen has a special place in my mind and soul and is the answer to everything. Feeling under the weather? Ramen. Feeling happy and hungry? Ramen. Hungover? Ramen.
Coming from New York and leaving that hankering unsatisfied for weeks is a foreign concept to me, so when I stepped into the empty Ittenbari at 9 pm on a Monday, I felt like I was reunited with a friend again. I have friends who aren't inanimate objects I swear...
I ordered the £11 Miso ramen which apparently contained Marmite and apples. What the what? Couldn't really taste those ingredients but I did enjoy the perfectly cooked soft boiled egg and chewy noodles. We also ordered the £8 Shoyu which wasn't as flavorful.
I'm giving it 3 stars because it was okay compared to the miso and shoyu ramen at Ippudo, Minca, and Hide Chan in New York. It's definitely better than the Menkutei chain there, and I'm sure I'll come back when I'm looking to fill the ramen void in my heart.
Oishiii! Seriously! I am so chuffed to have found this new ramen-land!!
I read Vicky's review, so although I was excited for Osaka-style ramen...I was also a little apprehensive that it wouldn't make me happy. I should probably admit that I was with some really lovely people, had just spent a few hours watching comedy for free (yay for the BBC: yelp.co.uk/biz/broadcast…) and was really quite tipsy. This means I was pre-disposed to love the world, especially when it involves ramen.
As Vicky mentioned Ittenbari doesn't do tonkotsu ramen BUT they do serve yummy shoyu ramen. This is the ramen of choice after you have had a couple of drinks (I used to munch this kind of ramen at 4am/5am while waiting for the trains to start, to take me home to bed after clubbing in Osaka.) The base flavour is soy sauce, and it is filled with savoury goodness - Yum!
- The flavour tasted just as I hoped it would. I love this kind of soup
- The egg was perfect and slightly gooey
- The atmosphere! This is not a posh-nosh kind of place, but it feels right to have ramen in a canteen-style room.
- I really like the Gyoza! They had the vinegar/chilli oil dip that I love, and they were all fried and stuck together (like they do in izakayas) Nom nom nom.
- There was no minimum spend (I still don't really understand why the other ramen places have this!!)
- They serve umeshu in large wine glasses. This was nice as most places in London are far too stingy when serving plum wine.
- There was no queue (this is probably because we arrived at around 9pm)
- I didn't get any nori in my soup!
- It was quite a lot of effort to flag down members of staff to order
I chatted to the chefs on the way out , and they said the head chef-bloke was from Osaka. That must be why this ramen tastes like authentic Kansai yummy-ness.
This is a small, home cooked-style Japanese restaurant tucked away on Brewer Street. Small tables (not great for large groups) with friendly service. If you're looking for a fancy sushi restaurant, this is not your place. What you'll find here is a lot of Japanese people, many eating alone, with a simple meal of comfort food: Chicken or pork katsu, katsu curry, ramen, chashu don, etc.
Think warming bowl food. While I have had the karaage curry, and it was decent, the star here is the ramen. Both the soy sauce based (shoyu ramen) and miso ramen (my personal favourite) are excellent. Though the miso ramen has a touch of marmite in it, never fear, it does not taste like it at all. Trust me, it just works. This is a different beast from a place like Bone Daddies (which is way trendier, a thicker broth, more 'goodies', etc.), what Ittenbari does, it does simply and well. An excellent weeknight dinner.
Ramen in London to beat the rain! Thank God!
My friend, Nida K., found this place and it almost reminded me of home (ramen San Francisco-style). It's pretty cheap, although I have to keep reminding myself that I'm paying for everything in British pounds, not US dollars, so it's actually not that cheap :/
Really like the thick broth and heaping portions!
Ramen 3.0! Otherwise known as the backwards meal for Josy and I because we decided to take advantage of the FREE CONE DAY at ben and Jerry's (Don't worry if you missed it this year, it's an annual thing!) So we had desserts-mains-starters. in that order and it was goooood.
It was also chucking it down! ice Cream & Rain? That only made ramen all the more needed, to warm us up!
Anyways, Yeegan, Josy and I bopped up to Itrenbari, RIGGGGGHT on time, just as the others were arriving. Perfect timing because we bagged with a massive table! (This is seriously an eat and go restaurant because if you stay longer, the queue will start giving you evils...) First impressions, 'I KNOW THIS JOINT, before it was ittenbari!' The ramen then wasn't so good at all. However, Ittenbari doesn't suffer the same consequences as RYO noodles did. I ordered the Shoyu Ramen and it was SO tasty, a little on the salty side for me, but the broth is definitely the better ones I've had. We also ordered Gyoza and karaage, the weirdest gyozas ever, IT WAS INVISIBLE! I kid, they forgot our gyozas (insert sad face!) The Karaage was good, CRISPY CRISPY CHICKEN! (Even better than KFC-Sorry Colonel Sanders, you KNOW it's true-can anyone explain why KFC is NEVER crispy?!)
I ordered the regular sized ramen bowl and was stuffed, but I think Peter.S supersized him with DX side and extra noodles. (Seriously, is Ittenbari trying to knock down the fast food giants?! First KFC and now Mcdonalds?!)
I prefer ramen to have a rich fatty broth, and while Ittenbari is quite good - their broth is on the lighter side. So its really up to the diner as to what type of broth they prefer.
From what I recall, they had 4 different types of ramen. I got the Ittenbari Ramen. The egg was cooked perfectly soft throughout, with a good assortment of veg.
I will come back if I feel like I need a light brothy noodle, but as I said, I prefer a richer soup.
2 ramens, gyoza and 2 Asahi for under £30, it's not too shabby. My litmus test for ethnic food places is always look to see if the actual nationality is sitting and eating there, to which end Ittenbari is filled with Japanese & ramen-loving locals (if you've been reading my reviews, you'll be aware I've had a few Mexi-can't experiences around town).
The menu is pretty simple, but hey, they do it well. The broths are a little different to Tonkotsu, so it seemed more chicken/seafood based. Definitely worth a stop in if you're craving some noodles. They're claiming they're the best katsu curry in London as well, so I'll have to make a stop back in! *twists arm*
Top tip, take cash with you, some people said there was a min, but when we went it was just cash-only.
This may one of the better ramen places in London, but when I've been to places in the states that are way better, it's hard for me to give Ittenbari more than an A-OK rating. It was a rainy night and some ramen sounded amazing so I yelped where to go on a Sunday night since nothing is open on Sundays in this city. Weird...
Ittenbari is a cute little restaurant that is pretty typical of the ramen joints I've been to in the past. I decided on getting a regular Shoyu Ramen and some fried gyoza. The fried gyoza made its way out first and while they were good, I'm sure they were the frozen pre-made kind you can make yourself at home. The ramen comes in two sizes (regular and deluxe) and they have about 4 or 5 options you can choose from. The broth was tasty, but I felt like it was missing something. I couldn't put my finger on it, but overall it wasn't bad. If you're in the mood for something hot with noodles, it does the trick. I'd be willing to give it another shot when the next cold, rainy day comes around... or if I need a hangover fix!
I was going to update but then it got ROT'D. But you know, still need to set record straight that Ittenbari is now 3 solid stars!
It still didn't hit my noodly- oodly nirvana and I still think it is not amazing but at least I didn't walk away with a scrappy tongue, which I believe, is a definite improvement.
Also amazing place to people watch all these "cool" people who want to show off eating the best noodles in town.
Ramen: Oh yes, it's good here!!
My Japanese friend recommended this place to me, so we went together for lunch. We got there at noon when it opens and the restaurant quickly filled up. Made a mental note to be sure to get here early next time as well to avoid a queue.
Menu is simple, they have 2 kinds of ramen: Shio or Shoyu (Miso coming soon) and in 2 sizes which comes with egg, boiled pork, bamboo shoots and green onions. Very simple and very delicious.
There are other rice dishes on the menu, but don't get distracted, you can get curry rice elsewhere Get the ramen and maybe a gyoza to start.
Slurp and enjoy!
This is an OK place for Ramen.
Ambience: very busy and buzzing which is a good sign. It has a small space upstairs but more spaces on the ground floor.
Food: Good size portion. My fiance wasn't too keen on the rice when he ordered the curry but the sauce was good and so was the Kara-Age chicken. The Ittenbari Ramen was lovely too but it only came with 1 slice of pork... a bit tight with their meat. Wouldn't mind if there were some veg to go along with it too (ie, seaweed or carrots etc). The Goyza wasn't what I expected and I had better before.
Price: They only take cash. The price is ok for it's portion so I'm not complaining in that department.
My brother enjoys this place but I'm not too sure of it. I will only return if someone else wants to eat here. Otherwise I'm happy trying out other places.
I have been looking for a decent Ramen restaurant in London since forever, and I think I've found my spot (although I am yet to try Tonkotsu on Dean Street).
I was greater in a friendly manner as I walked through the door and seated. I was given enough time to sit down and analyse every item on the menu. I decided to go for the Shio Ramen as I'm quite the fan of clear broths and really wanted to see if it was as salty as most people say. When the bowl of Ramen arrived (which was less than five minutes), the first thing I did was dip the spoon to the bottom of the bowl, bringing it back up to the surface with a spoonful of broth and aimed for my mouth.......
Umai!... I immediately tasted the chicken and vegetable flavours with an ever so slight seafood hint! I also got a little Miso kick too (not sure if it was actually in there), you see I'm not a fan of strong Miso flavour it's a little too rich for my little tastebuds. The noodles has just the right amount of bite to them, feeling dense when bitten into but oh so light and springy when slurping (yep I slurp noodles)! The veggies included spinach which was lovely, negi and bamboo shoots (although I was hoping to get some of the thick cuts of menma seen in Ramen made in Japan). I found the bamboo a little coarse but still enjoyed it in the bowl none the less.
The chashu was a little on the dry side (no juices oozing from it like some of the ramen pics seen in Japanese magazines) but it did the job, there just wasn't enough of it...! The soft boiled egg was the icing on the cake for me! The creamy texture of the yolk worked perfectly with the broth and noodles combined, I wish I had more of it!... Which leads me to my final point, the portion. While I am no beast I found the portion of chashu and egg on the small side, I could have done with at least four slices of pork and another half of an egg (or two maybe). One slice of chashu is not enough to share around with the rest of the ingredients in the bowl, I basically finished the pork and egg and had noodles, broth and spinach left.
I think I'll definitely try the deluxe bowl next time and see how I feel after that!
All in all (sorry for the extended review) I throughly enjoyed my bowl of ramen and will definitely come back here probably becoming a regular diner (sorry purse).......
Ordered the Shoryu Ramen, no negatives about the dish. Cooked well and the flavor was nice. Service was good and the restaurant has a welcoming vibe to it. Definitely recommend this place if you are around Piccadilly Circus and looking for some Ramen fix.
My favorite shoyu ramen in London! The noodle is firm and chewy, the broth is simple and balanced. All the ingredients come together and make it taste as good ramen should. I also tried a small fried rice on the side which was also tasty. I'll be back soon.
Ramen is not my favourite (I KNOW: SACRILEGE) so overall I prefer Koya with its cold noodle options. However, I really enjoyed that there is a deluxe option for each type (and the opportunity to say the word "deluxe") and the fried chicken was absolutely delicious. I cannot comment on the gyoza we ordered because, as the UYE apparently also experienced, it never arrived. Is the presence of gyoza just LIES? Nevermind though, because I was full anyway (although not too full for gelato, which happily is readily available in the area)
The hubby and I were in London doing job interviews and our paths crossed near Picadilly Circus so we decided to have lunch together here before running back to the interviews. We were not really expecting much but the ramen was actually really good.
The hubby had Ramen, I can't remember which one and I had the curry with chicken. Both were outstanding. The wait staff were fast, which was appreciated given our circumstance and the prices were great for London. If these jobs work out like we hope they will, we will have to come back!
Although London has a fantastic array of restaurants, I've never been able to find an authentic ramen shop. I think my search might be over.
Arrived on a Sunday at 1 in the afternoon to find a short queue ahead of us, which is always a good sign. After 10-15 minutes, our orders were taken and we were ushered into the restaurant. It was a bit strange to find the restaurant only half full after having to queue...
The shio ramen broth is light and the noodles are thin and very chewy; just like a good bowl of ramen should be (for those who prefer the rich dense Hokkaido-style ramen, I'm afraid you'll probably be disappointed). The pork was tasty BUT major downside is that you only get ONE wafer-thin piece, and half an egg!
Although I enjoyed my ramen I would only give Ittenbari 3 1/2 stars. Reasons? Service could be better, more generous servings of pork for the price.
PS: please get rid of the £20 minimum for cards!
i love shoyu ramen here. i think its one of the best in london.
Recently went back to Ittenbari for the third time, on this occasion with gf in tow. Previous two meals there had been encouraging: ramen was great, service was good, restaurant clean. This time however wasn't so inspiring. My girlfriend's food came first: the soup was pretty greasy, the hard boiled egg floating in the middle of the soup overcooked.
Before receiving my food however, I had an inexplicable half an hour wait. Literally, half an hour. Why there was a half an hour gap between serving two bowls of the same soup is anybody's guess. I received various excuses - the waitress mistook the order, the chef screwed up etc. etc. When it finally arrived, I did enjoy it. Maybe they made a fresh batch, because it was certainly a lot fresher and less greasy than my gf's.
They did redeem themselves somewhat by compensating, giving us each a free drink (coke) and were apologetic for the errors. I appreciate that these things happen, but it was just a shame considering the previous times I had been there it was so good. I was really looking forward to going back. Not sure I'll return so quickly.
I first sampled Ittenbari's ramen at the Hyper Japan convention in 2011, and I was hooked from the first bowlful. I have been a fan of Japanese cuisine for some time, and been visiting Ittenbari off and on since they opened.
I always order the Ittenbari Ramen, Deluxe (for the extra pork!!), with a bottle of Asahi Black (I love this beer!).
The broth is light but flavourful, the pork is cooked to perfection, beautifully tender to the point where it almosts melts in your mouth. The accompanying vegetables (wilted spinach, bamboo shoots, spring onions and a small amount of caramalised onion) are cooked well, and provide extra flavour and texture to the dish.
The noodles, which deserve an entire paragraph to themselves, are amazing. Made on site, these have to be the best ramen noodles I have ever tasted. Firm yet chewy, they take on the flavour of the broth without becoming soggy and mushy. I always go back for extra, which is a feature I like of Ittenbari.
If you manage to finish your ramen, have broth left, and are still hungry, for an extra £1.30 (I think!) they will give you an extra portion of noodles!!!!
The ambience of the restaurant is also worthy of note. Very no frills and minimal, the seating can be a little cramped when it's busy, but is otherwise fine. It has a very casual feel to it which I really enjoy, more akin to a cafe than an actual restaurant.
I would definatly recommend it anyone, except my enemies!
RAMEN 3.0! Woohoo! It was a perfect day for Ramen - cold, rainy, and generally all around miserable. So a steaming pot of noodles and pork with some awesome Yelpers was just what the doctor ordered (and probably would have given I was soaked and chilled from our wonderful freak London rainstorms).
Josy had graciously organised for us to try Ittenbari as a counterpoint to the tonkotsu ramen we've opted for the previous two times. This place offers a Shoyu ramen which is a soy sauce based ramen (tonkotsu is a pork broth base for those not in the know). I admit, that does sound a bit odd, but it's not like drinking soy sauce. Rather, think a rich hearty broth that's a mix between beef and miso soup.
We got luckily and managed to get a table for 7 as we walked in. Given that there seemed to be a line of 10 people both immediately before and after we got there, I think someone up there must have liked us. There is a pretty high turnover (this is more a get in, eat, get out type of place mostly) so the wait isn't that long as long as your group is fairly small. The line appears to be a wait there until seated without an option to put your name down and come back. I can understand why given the high turnover but it does mean you will have to wait until after your meal to browse the cute little grocery store next door where English is a rarity. I wandered through and had to go back later with Josy as a guide to work out what the popular items were. I do know their red bean paste mochi was delicious.
Alright, let's get cracking on the food and drink. Our sub-group ordered gyoza, kara-age, edamame, and of course the Shoyu Ramen. I also opted for the umeshu (plum wine) since Josy raved about the servings. As a note, my ice came with a black spongy thing in it and when they noticed it they quickly replaced my glass with fresh ice (and I hope fresh umeshu too!).
Our food came in short order (and a lot faster than the other sub-group's...must have been my dazzling smile) with the gyoza, edamame, and kara-age piling on one after another. The gyoza were perfectly steamed to just shy of painfully hot and pan fried to a golden brown crisp. As noted by other reviewers, the gyoza comes in batches of 6 stuck together. Now I don't think this is because they couldn't be bothered to thaw them properly (and since I saw them making a batch by hand I doubt they are ever frozen), but rather for efficiency they've batched them by serving size. A bit annoying given the extra effort but the taste more than makes up for it.
The edamame comes in fantastically large portions (none of this tiny miso bowl holding a bare handful of beans) and is generously covered in rock salt. We ate our fill and then some and still there were a few beans to be had. The kara-age deserves special mention as it hit that perfect balance of crispy breading and tender succulent meat. I think they marinate the chicken in some soy/ginger concoction before deep frying (excellent idea!) which gives it a deeper fuller flavour.
Finally, the Shoyu Ramen. It's beautiful. Don't believe me? See the pictures above and tell me you don't want to shove that down your gullet as fast as possible and like Oliver T ask for just a bit more. As I mentioned above, it's a rich lip-smacking broth (there is a word for this but it escapes me this early in the morning) based on soy-sauce. This helps it avoid the slightly oily after taste you sometimes get with its meatier cousins (I'm looking at you, Tonkotsu). You can get the regular or deluxe version (go deluxe...for just under 2 squids more you get extra meat, egg, and noodles) both of which include large slices of pork with succulent fat, crunchy green veggies, and a generous serving of noodles. These are the thin noodles which have been pan friend briefly to give it a slightly chewier texture than you would expect. I'm a fan of this technique and will be copying it the next time I attempt homemade ramen. Think of it this way. We were getting full on the starters but once the ramen arrived all was forgotton. We luxuriated in the tender mouthfuls of noodle and melt in the mouth pork. We happily crunched our way through the verdant spring onions, low moans of food-induced happiness emanating whenever our mouths were full of rameny goodness. And we slurped (it's only proper manner to do so) savoury soy stock which filled our bellies with fire and fuzziness.
All this washed down with generous gulps of sweet plum wine while chatting to some great people. How can life get any better?
Go to Ittenbari. You'll be happy you did. I'm already thinking of when to go back...
To be fair, a couple of minor annoying points. The other tables gyoza never showed despite repeated requests. The black mark in the ice should have been spotting before serving. But that's really about it.
Great oasis for ramen lovers while outside of Japan !! Love miso/yasai ramen and gyoza. thanks for existing there !!! would come back whenever I am in town.
There were a good mix of Japanese and European faces filling the utilitarian tables and the queues outside as we left were as long as those outside previous noodle-magnet Koya. With plenty of spaces in the noodle bars next door and around 'little Japan' it would appear that somehow this new Brewer Street addition is engendering the same fanaticism that Koya manages. So what is it with this noodley obsession in London, and what is it specifically with Ittenbari?
Ramen is like chicken soup for the Japanese soul. A big bowl of steaming handmade udon noodles lurk like deep sea cables in a fragrant pool of umami rich seaspiced broth ripe with veg, pork and a perfectly cooked egg. Simple, egalitarian and delicious. This is the food of Gods, and a workday lunch for most of Japan, the lucky bastards.
Despite the posters announcing a new opening, it doesn't look like they've decorated in years. The grafitti on the back of the loo door is historic and the decor chipped. What is new it would seem is the ownership. Now the London outpost of a renowned Osakan institution, imagine the frenetic foodie buzz if Russell Norman opened Polpo Tokyo and you might come close.
It's difficult and naive for this knowless gaijin to pass judgement on the actual noodles. I'll let the photo of the crowds streaming down the street at the lunch service do that. Was it the finest lunch i've had in my life? No, but it genuinely came close As a fulfilling, tasty meal, I can safely say that it's hard to beat.
This review is based off of only one visit. I'd give 3.5 stars for the shoyu ramen and 5 stars for the kare-age. Damn, that fried chicken kare-age was awesome. It's definitely no Ippudo, but it's solid.
Cosy eatery, very delicious ramen, the ingredients are very fresh and when I eat here there are hints of home cooking, great optional refill for the hungrier. Also great sushi with the freshest salmon I'e eaten so far in London. I highly recommend it!
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