Ippudo Central Saint Giles
Time Out says
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A super-slick international ramen chain that’s taking London by storm with its stonking tonkotsu and great side dishes.
Ippudo, a super-slick international ramen chain, has around 120 restaurants with branches in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and across Japan. This is the Japanese company’s first foray into Europe. The interior is dark, polished and brooding, with lots of glass and metal, and the staff, Japanese and other nationalities, make liberal use of a handful of Japanese phrases. This can cause a cacophony at times, but overall service is accommodating.
The speciality here is tonkotsu with pork loin slices, crunchy kikurage (cloud ear mushroom) and thin, own-made noodles (in the dish called Shiromaru Hakata Classic). As ramen goes, this bowl’s not exactly a looker. But what it lacks in beige appearance it makes up for in flavour. For added oomph, order it with a dollop of spicy miso paste and a dash of black garlic oil (in the variant called Akamaru Modern). Vegetarians are not left out at Ippudo: there’s a seaweed and mushroom broth-based version that’s topped with fried tofu.
Some ramen joints make it a noodles-or-nothing proposition. Here you’re spoilt for non-ramen choice, with dishes such as black cod with miso, seared Wagyu beef or deep-fried chicken. One of our favourites is Yamitsuki Goma Kyuri (sliced cucumber with salt, chilli, sesame oil and seeds). God knows how they got so much flavour into such a simple dish. And the cocktails are fun too.
Sadly, this is another no-bookings restaurant, and despite running to 80 covers, queues have been enormous so far. Our first attempt was nixed by a two-and-a-half-hour wait: you put your name on the list and wait for a call, but we didn’t have the stamina. Arrive early enough and you might get lucky.
Their flagship store in Central St Giles Piazza will charm you with the most authentic ramen experience that you won’t be able to resist. Spacious interiors, modern design, and traditional Japanese food are what make it stand out. Peek into the open kitchen and see the true mastery of chefs, always ready to entertain you with their performance.
The menu also includes vegetarian and chicken-based options, as well as a wide variety of appetisers, and a premium selection of sake.