Restaurant Review: Ichiryu Udon House, Fitzrovia in London
Having recently had a fantastic experience at Shoryu Ramen in Covent Garden I think it was only fair to introduce the Ramen / Udon noodle house’s younger sister into the equation. Having opened earlier this year with its new footprints on Oxford Street, Ichiryu is fun, lively and most importantly authentic.
How can we English equate how ‘authentic’ any given eatery is? Personally, I always rate this by the ratio of diners. Ichiryu is the perfect example – the buzzing restaurant is lightly lit and stepping inside, away from the pavestones of Oxford Street, it is filled to the rim with Japanese groups tucking into dishes they are clearly fond of and that are reminiscent of their Japanese homeland. Ichiryu’s menu consists of traditional Japanese udon, with an additional mix of sushi and sides, this all wrapped with a modern twist and a focus on the umami flavour.
The basis of the menu are the selections of light and healthy udon, which are ordered either chilled or hot with a variety of freshly prepared toppings of your choice. Hot udon dishes, or I should say… the huge bowls include, Niku Beef, a sukiyaki beef dish with egg, spring onion, kamaboko fishcake and with wakame seaweed in tsuyu bonito soup, or the popular ‘King Special’ made up of prawn tempura and beef. The bowls arrive steaming with generous toppings bouncing atop the rich soup; a great alterative in fact to English soups in the dropping temperatures.
I glance at the cold udon list; ‘Ontama Egg’ flies the flag at the top and is a mix of ontama egg with citrus fruit, spring onion, kamaboko fishcake, ginger, tempura pieces, nori seaweed, salad and tomato in tsuyu bonito sauce. Following from this, a parade of cold options mirror that of the hot dishes.
You may ask what Udon noodles are and how they differ from our accustomed egg noodle? Thicker but still with a light, bouncy density, these white noodles are often served in a soupy stock. Everyday Ichiryu’s skilled chefs prepare these udon noodles from scratch using their particular udon flour, which is the key element of udon in achieving great flavour and texture.
From first-hand experience it is undeniable that Udon noodles are comforting and delicious with the added bonus of being able to tailor practically your own bowl of goodness to how you like it…down to each and every topping. A reflection of the enthusiastic but relaxed Japanese diners around our table, it is clear that Udon noodles are a staple in their culture and are regularly enjoyed throughout Japan as a healthy, light and nourishing meal. To achieve this, Ichiryu have introduced three different varieties for those living a healthier lifestyle; these include the regular udon noodles which are less than 200 calories, matcha udon which is packed with natural antioxidants and wholemeal udon for added fibre intake.
Move aside sushi – Japanese cuisine has so much more to offer and Ichiryu is a prime example of this. The newest venture for entrepreneur Tak Tokumine, absolute pride is taken in being able to deliver a culinary puzzle piece of his Japanese hometown to London so that diners over here are able to enjoy and appreciate authentic, high quality Japanese udon.
Address: 84 New Oxford St, Fitzrovia, London WC1A 1HB, 020 3405 6360, ichiryuudon.com
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