Ichiryu, New Oxford Street – despite being a largish place (about 40 people) I find it surprising that Ichiryu has a policy of not seating you until everyone has arrived. So, it was predictable that they do not take reservations too. Unless you are someone important; the table next to us was reserved for a group of nine - Japanese speaking and also seemed to have special dishes served. Was the seating policy more of a selling point?
However, their main selling point was the udon; freshly made by a chef behind the glass window. It makes a fantastic window display as well as providing the entertainment factor for those who needed to wait for their rest of the company to arrive – standing. The communal dining area was high but they also have standard height seating.
I had a notion that fried food tend to be healthier in a Japanese eatery. Hence, we had our noodles along with some extra fried dishes to satiate the fried food craving.
kakiage tempura £2.00 – a nest of fried vegetables.
chicken cutlet £4.50 – the meat had a good balance of crunch and was still moist but it did look a little tired on the plate.
beef curry £12.00 – japanese curry, sukiyaki beef, spring onion in tsuyu bonito soup. Thumbs up from my diner companion.
zaru with assorted tempura £14.50 – prawn tempura, seafood and vegetable tempura, spring onion, wasabi, with dipping tsuyu bonito sauce (non-soup). Although the vegetables were a chunky cut, they were thoroughly cooked. The tempura batter looked like an out-of-the packet mix and didn't have that touch of lightness. And the fish tempura was not as fresh and had a noticeable fishy smell, I suspect it was already beginning to be past its good time.
If you have seen the matcha noodles going round on social media, Ichiryu is one of the places in London where you can try it. I am slightly bedazzled as to why I did not order it because I had wanted to. At £1.50 extra, I thought it was definitely worth a try. But we skipped dessert because I was not a big fan of cheesecakes (although I love making them) or mochi.
Overall, I find Ichiryu's fresh udon noodles fairly average but I say this comparing it to my other favourite place, Koya Bar. I was bound to. Koya Bar has set the yardstick for me. Ichiryu's ambiance is very much a cross like a canteen feel of Wagamama and a takeaway like Pret. Service was better, surprisingly good with their friendliness. Ichiryu is good for a friendly, casual week night evening with reasonable pricing.
London WC1A 1HB
GPS: Coordinate: 51.5169203 N, -0.1304306 E