ICHIBUNS is a new burger and ramen joint set over three beautifully kitted out floors in Chinatown. We’re invited to a preview while the hoarding is still up but everything feels super organised and polished.
We sit on the first floor next to a chandelier of glass baubles which extends down to the ground floor. There’s plants galore and reclaimed Japanese privacy screens all over the walls. A special shoutout goes to the bogs – there’s one of the those fancy Japanese toilets which squirts your bum with water.
We start with panko chicken tenders (£4.50) which comes with a house spicy sauce similar to katsu curry. The heat is most welcome against the tender chicken. Crisp fried salmon nuggets (£4.50) is something I’ve not seen done before but the fish reacts well to being breaded and fried – it remains soft and flakey.
Maki rolls encase some gloriously soft wagyu beef (£5). It’s slow cooked meaning it’s super tender. ‘Harumaki’ are essentially spring rolls. We go for ones filled with cheeseburger (£5) which have the flavour of MEATliquor’s Dead Hippie. Heaven. Snow crab (£5) is more delicate with shiitake mushroom, shiso leaf, yuzu pepper, cabbage and a butter ponzu sauce.
The Hokkaido burger (£11.50) is two 90g beef patties, made using Australian wagyu and British grass-fed beef, topped with white truffle oil and blue cheese fondue. Flavour-wise it’s a real explosion but it’s all let down by the patties being cooked well-done. I’m a rare kinda guy. Still, a thoroughly enjoyable mouthful though. The fries are moreish in a McDonald’s way, with the perfect blend of crisp, greasy, salty and soggy.
Ramen sees more wagyu beef (£11) and it’s a hearty bowlful. The inclusion of chilli oil gives it a fiery kick – the sort that keeps you going back for one more sip even though you’re stuffed.
Everything comes in disposable packaging which is unusual – even the wine is in plastic cups which, no doubt, will annoy some folk. Clever really as there ain’t any washing up. It’s all completely recyclable I’m assured.
We finish with a selection of mochi (£4.50) which are little balls of ice cream wrapped in a glutinous rice casing. Green tea, salted caramel and yuzu. Homemade. Who doeskin’t love mochi?
This is the Japanese owners’ first restaurant in London but they’re friends with Alan Yau (ex Park Chinois, Yauatcha, Hakkasan, Wagamama etc) which perhaps explains the polished performance on day one. I don’t doubt ICHIBUNS will do very well. Bizarre name though…
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant