Whilst most are debating whether the name is a little odd, I for one find the name rather genius. An obvious play on the Japanese word Ichiban, meaning number 1. What I am bothered about is the continued dissolution of the Chinatown identity. London Chinatown has been no more than a row of Chinese restaurants for a long time but at least there was some semblance of a community, now it seems to be slowly eaten up by the onslaught of a modernising Soho from the North and mega-corporation-land of Leicester Square from the South.
A Japanese assault on your senses
Slap bang in the middle is Ichibuns touting their Japanese inspired, luxury fast food… wait what? The concept is that everything is served in recyclable, disposable packaging to give it that authentic fast food appeal… the prices, however, are what makes it ‘luxury’. Whilst we didn’t manage to appreciate the decor of all three floors of this Japanese bonanza the ground floor is kitted out with interesting Japanese memorabilia and a green wall, all designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu of Studio Glitt in Tokyo. I particularly enjoyed finding my favourite characters on their ceiling!
Snow Crab Maki
The maki was agreeable with the masago providing some texture but it was lacking real excitement and is somewhat westernised by the spicy mayo dip.
Wagyu Beef Ramen
The rather non-descript wagyu streaks were a disappointment. I don’t quite understand the need to slow-cook wagyu and then shred it to pieces. The soup was also on the sweet side even with the flourish of chilli oil. The noodles themselves were a bit limp rather than al-dente. The best part of the bowl was the egg, though there was only half. Not an awful bowl of ‘fusionised’ ramen but hardly worth £11.
The Hokkaido Burger
The burgers are where the Asian influence and ‘creativity’ is most understood. It was a decent mouthful of food but the patties were a little coarse. The flavours could also be more inventive however the shiitake mushrooms in the burger are a revelation with their chewier bite.
Peanut Crunch Ichi Shake
I also had the Peanut Crunch Ichi Shake after being advised that the Sakura Blossom would book me an appointment with my dentist (not what the waiter said but what I understood). On first sip the thick milkshake was like slurping on peanut butter ice-cream, delicious! The hints of peanut butter through the sesame ice cream was just the right amount to not feel too indulgent. The slight downfalls are that the sesame snaps were too big to be slurped through the straw and towards the end it did get a little watery.
If you don’t dwell on Ichibuns being ‘fast food’ and solely consider it as a burger restaurant with a difference you should have a good enough time. My shake was the highlight of my meal so ordering one with a burger seems like a good bet. If you want a bit more, maybe try their Harumaki but steer clear from the ramen. If you want ramen, go dig into Kanada-ya. Want a burger but bored of the endless variations of burger chains? Then have a look at Ichibuns.
Address: 22 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6QQ
Telephone: You need to learn…
Mind the Gap:
Mon – Wed: 12pm – 11pm
Thurs: 12pm – 12am
Fri: 12pm – 2am
Sat: 11am – 2am
Sun: 11am – 10:30pm
(It is a pet peeve of mine when restaurants have minuscule variations of opening times! God just stick to one bloody time!)
Panda ate, shot and left.