I think we can all say that Tonkotsu’s opening week was not the best and the least said about it the better. But the day after I was still hankering for some good ramen, as I wanted to have that good ramen feeling again, so after some searching I came across Ittenbari, the reviews I read were all positive and well it couldn’t be any worse than what I had eaten the night before.Ittenbari has been open since March and the two times I’ve now been in it’s always been packed with a good mix of people and a nice vibe, friendly staff welcoming you in that all so friendly Japanese way, although most of the staff are not Japanese.
So first time visit a couple of weeks ago we had a portion of chicken Kara-age to share, deep fried chicken nuggets of heaven, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Perfect start to any meal. I am now slowly becoming addicted to this.
To quench my ramen hunger I went for a bowl of Shoyu Ramen, which was max on flavour and al dente noodles that had a nice fresh taste to them. The soy sauce stock as I said was big on flavour and well balanced, with a slice of pork and half an egg that the yolk was almost runny, almost but not quite. Damn. But a good bowl of ramen nonetheless and if you pay £2 extra you can go deluxe, more soup, a whole egg and another slice of pork. I also like that if you have soup left over and pay £1.50p they’ll give you another portion of noodles. Nice extra.
The chicken katsu curry was one of the best we’ve had in London, really nice chicken, a Moorish curry sauce that sent me almost back to Kyoto railway station, along with rice and a bowl of decent miso soup to boot as well, this was probably the star of the show and made up for the disappointment of the night before.
The last visit went I opted for the Shio ramen soup, a fish based stock, subtle on flavour but still really nice and very well balanced. a good alternative to the soy based soup. I am looking forward to trying the miso based soup.
Ittenbari may not be authentic with its South Indian cooks ladling bowl after bowl of soup into the bowls, but they are a friendly bunch with large smiles, but what is authentic these days, as every single restaurant in New York has Mexicans cooking in the kitchen, and I mean every kitchen. So in my book as long as the food is good who cares, I am saying this as I had a heated debate with someone on this very matter. Let’s just say I won, and she hasn’t spoken to me since.
Ittenbari may not be Koya, who have stuck to their guns and only sell udon based dishes, but Ittenbari is still pretty good and is slowly becoming my goto noodle shop these days, well that is if I cannot be arsed to queue outside of Koya’s.
On another point to be fair to Tonkotsu, I am going to go back and see how they are fairing as it would be unfair to judge them after that first week.