It is that time of the week again,
Welcome to a new episode of Ramen Escapade where your host, Le Captain Foodie, walks you around London to review the best and worst Ramen Restaurants.
In Today’s episode we target and institution in the world of Ramen: IPPUDO. A well-renowned Ramen shop in London and abroad.
Here is my review of their famous signature creamy tonkotsu pork broth the “Shiromaru” Special, itadakimasu!
IPPUDO Ramen is a famous ramen restaurant established in Fukuoka in 1985. I will not bother you with the long, yet interesting history of IPPUDO (their website is really well made for that); However, i will highlight a few interesting points that everyone should be aware of when it comes to IPPUDO.
- In 1997, IPPUDO Became Champion of the “TV Champion – Ramen Master Chef Championships” aired by TV TOKYO.
- In 2010 IPPUDO won first place in best overall at the Tokyo Ramen of the Year Grand Prix
- The founder Shigemi Kawahara is the winner of the 10th Anniversary Restaurant Award in 2014 for IPPUDO’s achievements in expanding the restaurant industry and contributions in developing a restaurant culture.
These three facts say a lot about what to expect from IPPUDO when it comes to Ramen.
IPPUDO opened their first franchise in London in 2014 in St Giles, then a second one was established in 2015 in Canary Wharf.
I usually visit IPPUDO’s restaurant in St Giles. Funny enough, the restaurant is located in front of their main competitor: Kanada-Ya. IPPUDO’s St Giles restaurant is beautifully designed. It has a spacious dining hall with a great atmosphere. You feel the influence of contemporary design and traditional Japanese architecture. It is quite harmonious and feels high-end for a Ramen Restaurant.
In terms of capacity, you have plenty of seats from the traditional counter seats in front of the chefs to the more intimate table. In addition to that, IPPUDO also has seats in the terrace which are a plus for the (too rare) sunny days in London. Thanks to all of that, IPPUDO is a perfect spot whether you want to quickly slurp a Ramen alone, have a good time with some friends, or initiate your new date to the pleasure of Japanese cuisine.
IPPUDO London offers a wide range of choices when it comes to Ramen, from the original Tonkotsu to a vegetarian broth option.
The main attraction at IPPUDO London is their famous Hakata style tonkotsu pork broth. You can choose from three variations of this recipe :
- The SHIROMARU (White): It is IPPUDO’s original tonkotsu pork broth and my recommendation if it is your first time visiting IPPUDO. This Ramen has a rich, creamy broth completed by home-made thin noodles, Chashu pork and extra toppings.
- The AKAMARU (Red) : It is a variation of their original tonkotsu Ramen enhanced with their special-blended miso paste and garlic oil
- The KARAKA-MEN : It is another variation of their original tonkotsu recipe, this time enhanced with a home-made “Karaka” spicy miso paste
If IPPUDO is renowned for their Ramen, they have also tried over the years to develop several different dishes and appetizers to expand their menu. The endless menu is not something I am particularly fond of when it comes to Ramen restaurants. However, when it is done successfully it can be quite helpful, especially when you are carving for Ramen and your other half fancy something else.
I recommend you to have a look at their website to see the full menu: IPPUDO London menu.
My Review: The SHIROMARU Special
Let me start by saying this,
Over the years, i have developed a love and hate relationship with IPPUDO London. Do not get me wrong, they serve a really decent tonkotsu Ramen, in fact one of the best in London. However, i have been disappointed too many times by the irregularity of their Ramen. If the balance of a perfect Ramen is based on the triangle Broth-Noodles-Toppings, where each element complete and enhance the other one. This balance has been compromised every time i went to IPPUDO. It is frustrating because i really enjoy IPPUDO’s Ramen and they could really become THE place to go for a perfect Tonkotsu in London.
It has been quite some time since i have not visited IPPUDO, so the Ramen Espacades were a perfect timing to review them again. I obviously went for the full set, the Shiromaru Special:
Broth: The Shiromaru Special arrived piping hot. The broth was literally boiling, which means two things : i nearly burnt my lips and tongue while tasting the broth (probably my mistake); And it also means that you have to eat the noodles pretty quickly before they overcook in the broth.
Despite that, the broth was superb. Thick, very rich and flavourful. Probably one of the creamiest tonkotsu you can find in London. The broth was really tasty, i even noticed some of the depth i am looking for in a proper tonkotsu.
Noodles: The home-made thin noodles is one of IPPUDO’s pride. On the paper, these noodles are engineered to enhance the Ramen experience as much as possible; “Round blade noodles fineness no. 26”, is the conceptual name of these noodles designed to suit the Shiromaru recipe perfectly.
You can select the hardness of your noodles and as usual, I have ordered them Hard. IPPUDO does not brag for nothing, their noodles are really good. Great texture, good Koshiness and flavour. You would not expect less from them. Unfortunately due to the really high temperature of the broth, they became mushy really quickly. (A reminder that Ramen is without a doubt a meal that should be enjoyed quickly in order to be truly appreciated)
Pork: First of all, the amount of extra slices served with the Shiromaru Special is quite consequent, you won’t feel disappointed if you love Chashu as much as i do.
Secondly, the slices are quite generous and thick compared to other Ramen restaurant, and they have a great ratio of meat versus fat, which is also a good point.
However, when it comes to the taste and texture i have been quite disappointed. Despite the fact that they are good looking and appetising, the slices are quite bland and dry. I was hoping for something much more tender and Uma-mesque. This day was not a good day to have Chashu at Ippudo.
Toppings: The Shiromaru Special means one thing: lots of extra toppings! Extra pork belly chashu, bean sprouts, marinated egg, spring onions, mushrooms, and nori. The additional toppings are served on a separate plate so you can decide how you want to eat and cook them. Personally, i just throw all of them in my ramen and enjoy the whole thing in one go.
The marinated Egg was creamy and tasty and in overall the toppings were good and a perfect match for the rich and creamy broth.
Size: The Shiromaru Special is designed to calm your hunger. The extra toppings and slices of Chashu served with the Ramen won’t let you down.
Service: The service was great as usual, efficient and friendly staff, you could not expect more.
Price: £15.5 for the Shiromaru Special plus £2 of service charge which means a total of £17.50. The Shiromaru Special is probably one of the most expensive Ramen in London.
Overall: Ippudo is without a doubt one of the best Ramen in London. If you enjoy eating a rich, creamy and thick tonkotsu, IPPUDO is a place that you must visit. After eating there for several years, i am still disappointed by the fact that the quality can be quite irregular and this time again the Chashu let me down. Do not get me wrong, the standard at IPPUDO is quite high and it should be, without a doubt, a great Ramen experience for everyone. You can head there with your eyes closed and your belly empty.
“If you enjoy eating a rich, creamy and thick Tonkotsu, IPPUDO is a place that you must visit.
The Shiromaru Special served there is one of the best tonkotsu you can find in London.
With IPPUDO you will definitly get a step closer to Japan”
Price for value: 3/5
3 Central Saint Giles Piazza
Saint Giles High Street
London WC2H 8AG
Opening Hours :
- Monday – Friday : 12:00 – 23:00
- Saturday : 11:30 – 23:00
- Sunday:11:30 – 20:00