Having visited Ichiryu when it first opened in early 2016, it was a pleasant surprise to revisit this welcoming udon restaurant and see their updated new menu and that operations are running smoother than ever.
You might wonder what is Hakata Udon? Hakata is a ward in the Japanese city of Fukuoka, which has often been considered the birth place of udon. One story of the origins of udon is that a Rinzai monk introduced flour milling techniques to Hakata in AD1241. And it is this traditional way of making this thick wheat flour noodle that Ichiryu aims to deliver. In fact the noodles are made fresh on site daily from scratch using special flour to deliver expert flavours and texture.
The new, improved menu carefully combats the stereotype that udon is only a dish for wintry, cold nights with a significant section devoted to cold udons. The sumptuous imperial tempura option has fresh, crunchy tempura in the form of prawns and vegetables as well as a healthy dose of salads with tsuyu bonito sauce to add in deeper and richer flavours. The highlights include the ontama egg, with the egg white custard-like in texture and the yolk vibrantly orange and creamy tasting and also the udon noodles which are thick and bouncy. Their updated menu includes options to have matcha udon with a high dose of natural antioxidants and wholemeal to improve energy levels and increase your intake of fibre. Somewhat surprisingly, their regular udon noodles contain less than 200 calories.
Although it isn’t just about udon noodles here, they also offer fluffy, irresistible hakata buns, which are also offered at their sister restaurant, Shoryu. The toriten chicken tempura version is relatively filling and well seasoned with ponzu sauce and Japanese mayo. A great, healthy snack option is their chuka wakame which is subtly seasoned, sweet seaweed and has numerous benefits such as boosting your intake of magnesium, iodine, iron and other nutrients.
For a casual udon eatery, their list of sake and shochu is impressive. They have also added on very on-trend ingredients like yuzu and matcha onto their cocktail and dessert menus. The yuzu mojito tastes refreshing and light, whilst their yuzu cheesecake is subtly citrusy and appetising.
This revisit of Ichiryu shows they have ironed up the kinks in the system and created a menu that is ideal for anytime of the year, no matter what the conditions are outside. You would struggle to find a more expertly crafted bowl of udon noodle anywhere else in central London.