We finally got to try out the newly opened Ichiryu! From the same creators as the Japan Centre and Shoryu Ramen, Ichiryu is the latest udon noodle bar to hit the London streets. We were invited to try out Ichiryu by Nee Hao and we couldn’t wait to get there!
It’s a short 2 minute walk from Tottenham Court Road station so we found it quite easily. Throughout the restaurant there are elements of the traditional Japanese culture appearing throughout the modern feel of the restaurant.
When you walk in, you’re welcomed by the sound of their drum and the chant of the traditional Japanese greeting, Irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ) from the staff. You’re instantly made to feel special and like a celebrity!
Once seated down, your waiter will explain how the menu works, which dishes they’d recommend you try (usually this means their specialties) and any new dishes they’ve added to the menu. Every customer that walks through their doors can expect this, as their rule is everyone is treated the same 🙂
There’s a range of hot and cold udon noodles with a variety of toppings that you can add for an extra price.
The udon noodles are made freah daily by their chef who has his own section at the front of the restaurant. Nothing better than seeing your food freshly made for you!
If you’re new to udon, then you might want to stay safe and opt for the traditional udon which is made from rice flour. For the foodies out there, you can try out Ichiryu’s matcha (green tea) udon. We couldn’t resist going for both!
Although the menu is only a page, there’s still lots of interesting choices. After some thought, we decided on:
Mackerel Tempura Udon (£10.50) – a big slice of mackerel fillet coated in a crispy tempura batter and cooked to perfection. The mackerel fillet was still moist inside despite being deep fried. As it had been sitting in the broth for a while by the time we ate, the bottom half was soggy – but this meant the fish had soaked up all the lovely broth. This is a relatively new addition to their menu and it was worth trying.
Niku Beef Udon (£11.50) – this was recommended to us as one of Ichiryu’s specialties. We opted to have it with the matcha udon – we were told this would take 7 minutes to cook (slightly longer than normal udon). But it still came out the same time as the other udons we ordered, which was pretty impressive. The beef slices were nice and tender. Although the matcha flavour wasn’t that strong, the overall texture of the matcha udon was creamier than the normal udon noodles.
Prawn Hiyashi Udon (£10.00) – this is one of Ichiryu’s cold udons. There’s less broth in these compared to the hot options, which may explain why the depth of flavouring in this wasn’t as strong in comparison. But there’s soy and chilli on the table for you to add, so you can tailor it to your taste. The good thing about having less broth in this was that the prawn tempura wasn’t served soggy.
From the toppings section, we each ordered the ontama egg (£1.80) . These were poached to absolute perfection! The traditional way is to mix the egg with your bowl of noodles. Or like Kitty, you can dip your udon noodles into the yolk instead. Either way, you get that lovely, velvety, creamy coating over your udon and it’s the best thing ever! We did suggest that the ontama egg comes as standard with the udon, but we were told that not everyone would like it. Maybe we can help make it become popular?
If you don’t fancy any of the extra toppings, then there is a free option. Every table has a box of the tempura flakes. Add a little of these flakes to your bowl of udon and it’s like you’ve just sprinkled some magic into it! Try it and you’ll see what we mean.
To go with our mains, we also had some sides dishes. Again we thought we’d go with the dishes our waiter kindly recommended to us.
Chicken Cutlet (£4.50) – this is essentially a piece of chicken, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. It’s served with Ichiryu’s homemade spicy sauce, which was creamy like mayonnaise. It’s quite spicy, so if you’re not to good with the heat, then maybe ask for the sauce on the side.
Kashiwa Chicken Onigiri (£3.60) – the only sushi on the menu that isn’t served wrapped in nori seaweed. Ichiryu used a traditional Hakata (southern Japan) recipe to make this. It had a sticky texture and you can taste the earthy flavours from the shiitake mushrooms.
After finishing the udon and side dishes, we went for dessert. No difficult choices here as there’s only two options for dessert:
Matcha Cheesecake (£4.50) – the matcha taste could’ve been stronger, but it had the right textures. We loved the creamy soft cheese and the crumbly biscuit base.
Mochi Ice Cream (£6.00) – these are Japanese rice cakes made with glutinous rice flour. The outer layer has a squidgy and sticky texture. You get three flavours: match, black sesame and yuzu. For the price we paid, we just wish there was more!
Overall, we enjoyed our time at Ichiryu and we’re going to give it 3.5 yums. It’s definitely worth giving a try if you’re new to the world of udon noodles. They don’t take reservations, but you do have the option of eating in or take away. There’s also quite a few products you can buy to take home with you – like the matcha powder, small snacks or desserts. The layout of the restaurant is very modern and the open kitchen makes you feel welcome and adds some excitement to your overall eating experience. We’ll probably be back soon to try out some of their other dishes.
If you’re going to try out Ichiryu anytime soon, then sign up here to get 50% off your udon. Enjoy!
Get your 50% off on your udon and tempura: http://www.ichiryuudon.com/neehao
Opening times: Mon-Sat 1200-2230; Sun 1200-2130
Location: 84 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1HB