I’d prefer Ittenbari if the ramen is as good as Tonkotsu. The Osaka crew decked out the space just like those we’d find in Japan, casual, crammed and full of ramen smell. The kitchen staff shouts ‘welcome’ in Japanese as soon as guests enter and the small restaurant is always packed with Japanese people hoping for a slurp of home taste. If only Ittenbari and Tonkotsu can combine their strength. Ittenbari has the bouncy, ultra yellow ramen which is rarely seen in London. But everything else is better at Tonkotsu, where the egg is gooey and properly marinated, the broth is not as salty and the Tokyo spicy is the best ramen I’ve had in London so far.
Ittenbari’s menu is simple and short with 4 options of ramen, miso (£11.50), shoyu (£8.90, soy sauced based), seafood (£10.50) and Ittenbari (£8.90, signature ramen named after the shop). Strangely, it also serves very generous portions of katsu curry, which did look pretty good on its way to another table.
The bowls here seemed bigger than other places, at least taller.
The egg was a bit overcooked, no longer gooey. Its flavour was exactly like boiled egg without any marinate. The broth was rich and flavoursome but quite salty. The ramen was perfect, bouncy and super yellow.
Shoyu ramen has a soy base so it was saltier than others. The ramens didn’t have vastly different flavours, they shared the same strength and weakness.
Verdict - 3/5
Food (not as good as Tonkotsu) - before Tonkotsu opened, Ittenbari was ‘the’ place to have decent ramen. But apart from the extra yellow and bouncy ramen, everything else is now better at Tonkotsu.
Service (very Japanese) - it could’ve been lifted from Japan and dropped straight in Soho. Food comes quick but there can be a lengthy queue on weekends. Minimum reservation is for 5 people.
Cost (£12pp) - very cheap and correctly so. They only take cash.
84 Brewer Street
London, W1F 9UB
020 7287 1318