Ramen rules

Last week I visited Ippudo with my housemates following a visit to the Courtauld Gallery to catch the end of the Egon Schiele exhibition. We were a bit weary (classic gallery fatigue) and cold, so ramen seemed the ideal comfort food to pick us up.

Ippudo launched towards the end of last year and I have been enviously watching tweet after instagram of the steaming bowls of noodles, never quite making it down myself. So, on this chilly Saturday we ambled along, hoping we might just manage to get a table. Hah! No such luck. We weren’t surprised – standard no reservation policy. So, we had a quick nip over to the Aveda Institute for a browse and juice, and twenty minutes later our table was ready.

A funny quirk about Ippudo – as people enter or leave the restaurant all the chefs and staff down tools and shout “arigato” at the top of their voices. It’s quite amusing, but after a day of people coming in and out I don’t know how they don’t get driven mad by it!

Anyway down to the menu. I started proceedings with a lovely plum wine whilst mulling over the menu. There was only one thing we all had on our minds – the Tonkotsu Ramen. All three of us opted for the Akamaru Modern ramen, “a bolder translation of the original pork broth; homemade thin noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret Umami Dama paste, pork belly chashu, bean sprouts, sesame kikurage mushrooms, spring onions and fragrant garlic oil”, with added soft-boiled egg.

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The glorious bowl arrived very speedily, and with as much haste, we got our faces into it and started slurping up the delicious noodles and broth. Boy, it was good! I’ve had ramen in the past that I’ve found way too heavy and haven’t been able to finish, but this broth had a lovely flavour without being too overpowering. As we slurped our way through it, it got me thinking. What is ramen protocol? How are you supposed to eat it? Why do I have chopsticks and a spoon?

Well, a Google later, and here’s my summary of the best way to eat ramen like a pro:

1. Bow your head to the bowl to avoid spillage

2. Eat the noodles as quickly as you can, whilst they’re still chewy and before they get soft

3. No talking…observe the second rule

4. Slurp quickly, slurp loudly

5. Get into the ‘ramen ritual’; slurp the noodle, bite the pork, drink the broth, and repeat

6. Once the noodles are finished, bring the bowl to your mouth and drink the broth

We all really enjoyed our meal and it was very reasonable (a bowl of ramen with one extra topping comes to around £12.50). Also, there were lots of Japanese diners there, which I think is always a good sign for an authentic eat (that is, apart from the English at greasy spoons on the Costa del Sunbed).

Definitely try it out if your in the Holborn/Shaftsbury Ave area. We really enjoyed it and will be visiting again soon.

http://www.ippudo.co.uk

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