Restaurants, Japanese Soho
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In the window of Soho’s Ittenbari, far away from its big brother Ryukishin in Osaka, is a quick and simple ramen production line. Deep blue and red bowls are filled with stock, either shio (‘salt’ – with seafood extract) or shoyu (with soy sauce). Thin wheat noodles are then scooped out of boiling water and into the stock in one motion. Another pair of hands quickly adds a slice of pork, half a soft-boiled egg and then completes the composition with a scoop of spinach, a bundle of bamboo shoots and some thin slices of spring onion.

The interior has changed little since the same site was the Ryo noodle bar, and before that, Men’s Bar Hamine. The plain white-tiled walls, gaffer-taped up air conditioner vents and plastic table tops will win few design plaudits.

The service is similarly to the point, with drinks, food and the bill all brought in quick succession, but friendly nonetheless.

The two stocks were both pleasing backdrops to the springy noodles. The pork slice however was fairly undistinguished and the gyoza dumplings dry without a dip in some rice vinegar. For £8.90 a bowl though, diners may be able to overlook the culinary and decor defects and instead appreciate a very filling bowl of noodles.


Venue name: Ittenbari
Address: 84 Brewer Street
Opening hours: Meals served noon-10.30pm Mon-Sat; noon-9.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus tube
Price: Main courses £8.90-£15. Set meal £15.50. Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30
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I'm going to say that so far, this is my favourite ramen place in London, especially for the miso ramen they have more recently introduced. I have not eaten their other fare, but frequent solely for the ramen. The miso stock is absolutely delicious, and I would say it comes close to the quality of ramen I have tasted in Japan. It really does have a unique taste. Noodles are OK. Not the best, but you can ask them to cook them how you would like. Toppings again are OK, but not amazing. However, given the great portion sizes, kaedama and hot broth (tonkotsu restaurant can learn from this), this place gets the thumbs up. Gyoza are also generally cooked properly, sometimes not crispy enough but good flavour. Also, the surroundings here are more cafe like, so don't expect trendy surroundings and impeccable service. If you want a great miso ramen, come here :)

Worst service I've ever had in Japanese restaurant. When we wanted to order, a waitress was just reading a magazine and did not even take a glance at us! We had to walk to her and ask for food. When we are eating, anohter customer came in and tried to order, but the same thing happened. The waitress was too busy reading to take a order! One of the cusotmer was standing up, waiving to her to get her attention but no luck. We had to shout at her 'They need your help!' as we were at closer table. Other staff were chatting each other and no one took care of customers. The foold was ok (not excellent) but as service was terrible, we did not give any tip. The waiter who collected money was obvioulsy not happy and did not say 'Thank you (Arigato gozaimasu in Japanese). He ignored us until we left the restaurant! V. unpleasant experience. Never go back. As a Japanese myself, shame...

Horrible! I couldn't finish my meal used to be one of my favourite restaurants

The Japanese restaurant that used to be here was amazing - hearty, authentic meals and super cheap too. But since its makeover/rebrand, it's gone down hill. The service is patchy. The sashimi tastes like it's sat out all day. And the gyoza is like one from a packet. The set meals also come with a salad - which is just a small heap of lettuce with two slices of cucumber on top. I hate to admit it, but if you're hankering for this kind of food, you're better off at Wagamama.