Hi all, sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted…I’ve been busy making life decisions and planning holidays!!!! Anyway more on that later…
For now let’s talk about Ippudo, this is part of a Ramen-ya chain from Hakata, Japan. Over 80 locations in Japan and international this is one of the most well known ramen restaurants in the world! In facts I first tried out their noodles in New York!!! I remember the noodles being pretty good but was annoyed and tired by the looooong queue!!! Which I was very worried about for this visit in the London branch especially as there were 5 of us! Luckily this was not an issue despite it being a Friday! Guess we were early at 6:30….
We had had to wait at the bar as one of our party was joining us later. We were ushered over to the bar for a few drinks while we waited. There had a few interesting cocktails and a good selection of sake. Initial 3 of us had chosen plum wine but there were running low and only had enough for 2… Very odd for the start of the weekend!!! I managed to commiserate myself with a delicious cocktail. We also ordered some snacks to tide us over.
Once we sat down at our table we poured over the short menu and quickly made our selections. We ordered a ramen each and a few side dishes to try. Bear in mind unlike ramen-us in Japan the egg does not come standard so if you want one (believe me you’d want one!!!) make sure you order one!!! One of our friends were slightly allgeric to gluten, she’s it sure how much but she definitely knew that she can’t eat “normal” noodles but soya sauce and such are fine. Therefore she asked for the “Karaka” Spicy Men but with rice noodles. The waiter was a little confused but after checking came back and said it was fine. Our dishes started to arrive and we enjoyed most of the starters except for the Tori Kara-Age which was basically the same as Fried Chicken we had ordered at the bar but without the tasty sauce and double the price….
Our noodles start to arrive and they looked very authentic and we couldn’t wait to tuck in… Except when the rice noodle version came… The first one she noticed was “Where’s my egg???” Which the waiter quickly bought over. Then we all noticed that it was missing the spicy soya paste that we had… The wait explained that this might not be gluten free so they didn’t give it to her…we explained it was fine…he bought that over. Then we noticed actually she bowl was completely different to ours…there was no pork no beansprouts…. After asking the waiter he once again explained that the way the pork is marinated might not be gluten free so they didn’t give this to her…. We again explained that’s over, what she really wanted was just the same as what’s on the menu but with rice noodles!!! He went away and we were all rather confused!!!! Then one of the chef came over and explained that the rice noodles would not taste good with the broth and the pork therefore they decided that it was best to keep her the plainest broth they have with some veg…. After reassuring him again that it is fine this is how she wants it he reluctantly prepared what she wanted!!! By this time the rest of us were pretty much done….
As you can see that was a little bit stressful! However I have to said that the ramen themselves were declicious!!! We ordered all 3 of the meat ramen on offer and all in all I would say my favourite was Shiromaru Hakata Classic. They were all good but I did find the other 2 a little bit too rich for me (mind you they were all lip smackingly rich) my complain would be that they were a little stingy with the melt in the bowl and your mouth pork belly! You only get 1 piece where generally you should get at least 2!!! However don’t get me wrong you would walk away stuffed even if you only have one ramen especially if you finish all the soup so it’s really just me being greedy!!! Which actually meant we were all far too full to try out the desserts, even though I have to say after they told us that they didn’t have the Matcha ice cream I wasn’t interested any more anyway!!!
All in all it was a fun experience and the service was very friendly and patience if clumsy except for the hostess whom I found to be a bit rude! The drinks were good and it’s definitely one of the best ramen in the city!!! Prices were higher than expected but not extortionate! Definitely can fill a ramen shape hole in your life along with my favourite Shoryu where they also serve tonkotsu but not as rich. Next time we might not bring our friend!!!