Ramen comes to London
Back in the early 2000s when I had the misfortune of working in Canary Wharf, it was a culinary graveyard, redeemed only by the fact that the West End was at least reachable in around fifteen minutes. Although the Wharf remains (to my mind) a thoroughly depressing place in which to work with woefully inadequate transport infrastructure, it is at least pleasing that the range of dining options seems markedly to have improved. Indeed, on each – increasingly rare – occasion I venture to the area, several new places are open. A recent visit to Ippudo, a newish Japanese outlet specialising in ramen impressed, location notwithstanding. For the uninitiated, ramen is a dish comprising Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth typically flavoured with soy sauce and miso and covered in a range of topping such as sliced pork, seaweed and vegetables. In Tokyo, salarymen lap it up with gay abandon at lunchtimes and it therefore,seems somehow appropriate that the second Ippudo outlet in London (the first is in Covent Garden) should open in the shadow of oppressive skyscrapers. The restaurant itself is classic modern Japanese – functional and efficient, but broadly stripped of all emotion. It is the food, however, that does the talking here. Both my comrade and I opted for ramen (spicy pork for me, vegetables in the other bowl). We were luxuriated in the diverse textures and flavours of the dishes, with the chilli in mine packing a real punch. The meals felt filling, healthy and satisfying, especially with a price tag of around £10/bowl. Salads, raw fish (sushi and sashimi) and Japanese-style steak are also available. This is not necessarily a place to linger, but somewhere undoubtedly to visit for an authentic ramen experience in London.