Thursday, 6 September 2012

Ittenbari – Battle of Ramen

So I liked Tonkotsu, Hakata ramen from Kyushu prefecture sat very well its thick, porky soup. And the immediate question from most friends was: Tonkotsu or Ittenbari? Well, here we go.

This noodle bar is much more simplistic, bare walls and wooden furniture; it’s basic, almost canteen-like. The energy and enthusiasm of the staff lighted up the place though. It was early evening when I visited and saw head chef briefing the rest of the team for evening service. Menu is more expansive here, it offers sushi & sashimi and a few set lunches. 

Mini Char-shu don
This was actually bigger than I anticipated, and very generous with the meat. The cubes of pork were heavenly, succulent meat with a small lump of lard, with teriyaki sauce drizzled, not drowned. The fat burst to release nutty grease that fuses with the warm rice... hmmm... The sauce was pretty spot-on too, not overly sugary or viscous, just savoury with an addictive sweetness.

The regular size version has one slice of pork belly and half an egg, probably a bit meagre for an adult, but given I got my share of pork from the mini-don, this was okay. The soup base was made with chicken and vegetable stock with seafood extracts, much thinner, clearer and lighter. But I prefer the rich soup at Tonkotsu, this by comparison felt somewhat lacking in substance and texture.

I did, however, prefer was the noodles here. I am a die-hard fan for the eggy ramen. This was the kind of ramen I was first introduced to in my childhood; they kick a tone of alkali into the soup. It may sound weird, but I love that gentle nose-prickling alkali, just a subtle hint of it would do, it brings a certain roundness to the flavours.

My first impression tells me Tonkotsu beats Ittenbari. However I need to come back for their miso soup base ramen to know better...

84 Brewer Street
Tel: 0207 287 1318

Ittenbari Ramen Restauant on Urbanspoon
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