Yes, I ate out twice in one day.
Ippudo is the latest addition to a ever growing influx of ramen restaurants in the city, and I had wanted to visit for a while (despite not liking ramen). For those less orientally inclined, ramen is a bowl of noodles in full bodied pork broth. We arrived expecting a 2 hour queue, but where quickly whisked to our table, followed by shouts of “irrasshaimase”. Traditionally ramen restaurants are cosy, understated wooden benched affairs with no elbow room. This concept has been westernised with two floors of varnished wooden tables that could accommodate even the largest family, and cocktail names such as Bloody Oishi, all enclosed by four glass walls in Tottenham Court Road. They even imported the drunk Japanese businessmen.
The menu is small, but tempting, with three types of ramen each for carnivores and vegetarians. I desperately scoured it for something soft that I could dissolve in my mouth without having to chew, due to a wisdom tooth removal. Service was very attentive, but for once I didn’t feel forced to wolf down my food at any point to free up the table for new customers. Eventually I decided on a vegetable Hirata bun (£3) and the Zuke maguro (£14), whilst my friend went for the classic ramen (£10) and a topping of poached egg (£1.50). To drink…a diet pepsi (£2) and iced green tea (£3). Bloody dry January. The drinks selection looks very good and I was almost tempted away from sobriety by the cocktails. I think I will be returning to sample one of the many cocktails with a Japanese twist. The food arrived worringly quickly, and piping hot, in the case of the ramen. The hirata bun was delicious: a combination of crispy aubergine, eringi mushrooms (whatever they are), iceberg lettuce, chilli sauce and trusty Japanese mayonnaise. I should have ordered two (or three).
The Zuke maguro was an arrangement of tuna sashimi, quails eggs and vegetables, and narrowly avoided tipping over into pretentiousness. The ponzu and wasabi oil dressing made the dish, as the fish was a bit stringy and I don’t think it is quite worth the price tag.
The ramen was apparently very porky (what did you expect?).
Overall I felt the food and the setting were slightly mismatched, or I may have just been a bit protective of my culture.