Udon House in Oxford Street – Ichiryu:
Ichiryu is the newest venture for entrepreneur Tak Tokumine, who founded Japan Centre in 1976. A Hakata native, Tak takes pride in being able to bring a piece of his hometown to London, allowing people from all walks of life to appreciate authentic high quality Japanese udon. Coupled with an executive chef who brings with him a wealth of experience drawn from having worked in udon restaurants in Fukuoka prefecture for many years. Hakata, in the Japanese city of Fukuoka, is considered to be one of the birthplaces of udon.
Ichiryu specialises in delicious handmade noodles, prepared from scratch. Udon are thick and bouncy white noodles made with udon flour, often served in a complementary stock.
Situated on New Oxford Street this simple, yet delicious Japanese cuisine is a great find. My first impression of Ichiryu was its simplistic and modern design, both inside and out. Symmetrical, clean lines using concrete and wood, and metal structural lighting. The glass counter displays a fine row of Saki bottles.
I was immediately struck by the young Japanese clientele, which I always think is a good sign. The friendly staff all entertainingly wore Manga style headscarf’s and provided a fast, efficient service.
My friend and I started off with summer cocktails from the new menu. It was a hot August evening, therefore I chose a refreshing Yuzo Mojito, made with white rum, fresh strawberries, mint, lime and yuzu syrup over crushed ice. My friend went for a more bitter sweet taste with a Sakuranbo Bitter, a mix of Yuzu umeshu, cherry brandy, campari topped with ginger ale.
We were recommended the sharing vegetable platter, tempura style, served with a selection of soya, dashi and mirin dips. I found this to be rather filling for a starter. However it was light and crispy and very tasty.
For main course I chose the recommended King’s Special, a hot udon noodle dish with a mix of seafood, egg and the spicy crunch of kimichi, tender sukiyake beef and a plentiful sling of spring onions and wakame seaweed in a light tsuyu bonito soup, a tuna and lemon based broth which allowed the taste of my chosen matcha green udon make their mark. Matcha udon is renowned to be packed with natural antioxidants and has its own distinctive flavour of green tea.
My friend chose the cold Prawn Hiyashi Udon, which he described as a great summer dish with lots of textural interest and a delicious stock, like a cold miso. It looked magnificent!
We accompanied our meal with a plum wine called Kobai, which complimented our meal perfectly with the taste of ripe plums and a tangerine twist.
For pudding we shared a Yuzu Cheescake and Yuzu Sorbet. Yuzu is a citrus fruit, which looks very similar to a tangerine. It perfectly infused the delicious light and fluffy cheescake, which was on a seeded biscuit base, this along with the refreshing taste of the sorbet was the perfect finish to a fine Japanese fare.
ICHIRYU HAKATA UDON HOUSE
84 New Oxford St London WC1A 1HB