Ramen wars continue and my next stop was Ippudo Canary Wharf. I never made it there during my trips to NYC, so I was excited when in came to London and even more so once the Crossrail location opened up as it makes a brilliant lunch spot. My fellow Boozy Buncher, Yee Gan, maintains it’s his favourite Ramen place in NYC (and possibly London? Stay tuned to find out!) The space is decked out in a modern take on the traditional Ramen house with a mix of counter seating and tables. The staff are friendly and mostly attentive as while ordering is a breeze, it can be hard to get the bill at times.
What you need to know
- The menu has 3 styles of ramen, all with tonkotsu soup
- The egg is an extra option, not standard, and it’s not a proper marinated ramen egg
- If you are hungry, get the mini-don option for an extra £2 which is the best value on the menu
- Ippudo doesn’t take reservations and will only seat you when the whole party has arrived
There is absolutely no space to chill out and wait (beyond a very small area at the door) so if you are gathering a group then it’s best to find somewhere more comfortable and arrive en masse. Notes coffee shop is a few units down and you also have a massive Sports Bar as well as Big Easy upstairs. If the weather is favourable, check out the garden on the top floor of the Crossrail building which is a great contrast to the towering metal forest of Canary Wharf.
What to eat?
My go to Ramen here is the spicy tonkotsu which is the regular ramen with a generous dollop of spicy chilli paste. As this is Ramen Wars, let’s go through the components before we pass judgment.
Noodles: Ippudo’s noodles are thin, silky smooth, and very soft yet manages to stop just shy of mushy. I usually like my noodles to have a bit more elastic chewiness but I found myself rather enjoying these so full marks from me.
Soup: The soup base is a rich fatty tonktosu (pork) broth. It boasts a good meaty flavour and is very filling – a slightly dangerous thing for lunch. However, it’s not oily so you don’t walk away feeling greasy but rather pleasantly warm and sleepy.
Toppings: You get a decent variety of toppings here including finely sliced spring onion, bean sprouts, and kikurage mushrooms. There are also crushed cashew nuts which end up sinking to the bottom and largely being forgotten. The chashu pork slices were meltingly tender and generous in size so that was a win. Each bowl comes with some “fragrant garlic oil” but honestly I would be hard pressed to identify any real garlicky taste – a press with fresh garlic (aka Bone Daddies) is much more effective to adding that beautiful garlic flavour.
Egg: The main annoyance is that the egg is a £1.50 extra and comes as a whole soft boiled egg. I wouldn’t bother as it’s not marinated and the yolk, while runny, was cold.
General Happiness: Overall, I’m pretty happy with the spicy tonkotsu ramen. It’s a tasty and enjoyable bowl of food and for £11 is quite reasonable particularly in Canary Wharf.
Noodles: ★★★★☆ Soup: ★★★★★ Toppings: ★★★☆☆ Egg: ★☆☆☆☆ Happiness: ★★★★☆
Lastly, the edamame starter is a great option (although a tad small for £4) as it comes stir fried with chilli and garlic. The gyoza are perfectly fine but lacking in any distinct flavour but I’m spoiled as the wife makes some truly epic dumplings. The mini karage don option for £2 is an absolutely winner – you get a small bowl of rice plus a few juicy pieces of fried chicken – what’s not to like?
How about a drink?
As you’d expect, Ippudo has the usual beer and sake options – a tall glass of Asahi goes down a treat with Ramen after all – as well as a few cocktails. However, I can’t comment yet as I’ve only been for lunch and, despite what the movies show, a 2 hours boozy lunch just doesn’t happen if you’re going back to work!
Worth the dosh?
Yep. Price-wise, the ramen is about middle of the range compared to the other spots in London and the quality is above average in my view.
Find Ippudo Canary Wharf here