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Ramen Resolution – Ramen Miyako Gion (Kyoto)

Ramen Resolution – Ramen Miyako Gion (Kyoto)

Reading Time: 2 minutes


This is the third of five ramen blogs from my recent adventures in Japan and this time coming at you from Kyoto.

Kyoto is one of Japan’s oldest cities, chosen in 794 as the seat of the emperor, where they ruled from for eleven centuries until 1869. The Gion district originated to provide entertainment for travellers and visitors and became the most well-known geisha (or the local term geiko) district in all of Japan.

However, centuries of history and the refined elegance of the geisha are spared from Ramen Miyako. This place is lively, edgy and loud and I loved it!

This restaurant was the selection of a friend, who had found it online after the original place that we wanted to visit was closed. Sometimes those by-the-seat-of-your-pants choices can be terrible, but sometimes they really come up with the goods.

We arrived separately and as I was running slightly late the starters had already been ordered for me by the time I arrived. Something is thrilling about a blind date with an appetiser no knowing what might arrive. I was delighted when a feast of edamame, chicken karaage, pork gyoza and fried rice was placed on the table. Each table also had a seemingly bottomless kettle of sweetened cold tea.

Three of us chose the standout item on the menu, the chasu pork belly, which looked almost barbequed and had a rich roasted flavour. You can’t quite make it out from the photo, but there were small globules of fat floating in the broth. That could put me off, but they melted instantly in your mouth and added wonderful smoothness. The fourth bowl was a spicy veggie ramen (to which a side of pork was added!). If I had one note, it would be that there could have been a whole egg and that they had been perhaps a little too generous with the fistful of spring onion on top of the bowl.

In the rush to get to the restaurant we hadn’t realised that it was cash only, so luckily one of our group was able to cover it for everyone. If you find yourself wandering around Gion, then take a wander into Ramen Miyako, and if you get to the bottom of why there are loads of post-it notes on the walls let me know!

Ramen Resolution – Tori Soba Zagin Honten (Osaka)

Ramen Resolution – Tori Soba Zagin Honten (Osaka)

Reading Time: 3 minutes


I’ve made this resolution before, and haven’t always delivered on it, but again in 2024, I want to get back into posting blogs more regularly. So I guess I can make a start with the next #RamenResolution instalment!

For anyone who hasn’t been following along, a resolution that I made in 2016 was to eat more noodles, and I’ve been blogging about all of the places I’ve tried ever since. I gave up issuing ratings to the places a little while ago because food, like music, is so subjective and just because I like it doesn’t mean that you automatically will (but it’s ramen, so really what is there to dislike?!).

Some people have called Tori Soba Zagin Honten “ramen heaven’ and they were not overstating things. This is up there with some of the best noodles that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.

Many of the recommendations for places that I ate in Jpan came from Tiktok, but this particular recommendation for Tori Soba Zagin Honten in Osaka was from a friend, who described it as a “must-visit” location.

It was a little off the beaten path in a business district so took a little while to find the unassuming restaurant; in hindsight, we could probably have planned the day better to end up nearer the location instead of making a special trip from our accommodation around 30 minutes away. However, I think it meant we found at least one additional Eki Stamp (cute ink stamps at most train stations and tourist locations that collectors can add to books to chart their travels).

I’m not usually a massive fan of soba noodles in the UK, I find them a bit sour. So whilst I trusted the recommendation, I also was managing my expectations a little.

There was a short queue when we arrived, but we placed our order using the vending machine (see previous post for details) and took a seat on the small bench outside. After less than 10 minutes we were ushered inside perhaps one of the most serene restaurants I’ve set foot inside, it was like taking a breath. It was virtually silent, with most diners eating alone, and hushed conversations in the open kitchen.

There is only one variety of ramen on offer, chicken paitan, so menu selection was easy (although they do lots of other non-ramen dishes). We added the beef sushi and the chicken karaage.

Already creamy chicken soup is blended with a hand mixer which aerates it, making it smoother, and lighter in colour and leaving a frothy head. As well as fairly common additions of soft-boiled egg, beansprouts and onions there is a giant slice of pork and a thicker slice of chicken, and the whole bowl is loaded with fried burdock root which adds a crunch (at least if you eat it quickly before it soaks up the broth).

I really like seeing ramen prepared before your eyes – watching the precision and ritual that Japanese chefs take in adding all of the elements and ensuring it’s presented properly is captivating. Because the restaurant was so quiet it felt like even more of my focus was on watching the ceremony.

The chicken was wonderful – with salt and pepper added to taste. The beef sushi was incredibly good, although I hadn’t quite mastered the swish and flick to wrap the extra-long slice of beef around the rice in the way other customers did.

And then the main event. Ramen heaven. The broth was sublime, the blender adding air bubbles like a nitro-infused cocktail or a Guinness before it has settled, which made it taste lighter but still with the collagen stickiness that makes ramen incredible. The burdock root was earthy and added a nice texture, and the egg was cooked to perfection.

Please, if you are in Osaka, visit Tori Soba Zagin Honten. If ratings were still a thing this would be a 10 out of 10! You will absolutely not regret it. And the best part is the price, a bowl of some of the best ramen I’ve tasted cost the equivalent of £7.

Ramen Resolution – Oreryu Shio Ramen (Shibuya)

Ramen Resolution – Oreryu Shio Ramen (Shibuya)

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Planning a trip in 2023 means spending a lot of time on TikTok looking at the suggestions and recommendations from other travellers. Ahead of my trip to Japan in October, my algorithm was about 80% Japan travel tips and I had amassed a long list of places that I wanted to check out, mostly interesting food places in the main cities I’d be visiting; Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

Another tip from TikTok was rather than having everything planned out in fine detail, to create a Google Map of the pinned locations of cool places, so you can see which locations are nearby and go with the flow a little more.

@miss_veraa I honestly think this is the most practical way to plan a trip #travelplanning #howtoplanatrip #traveltips ♬ Yacht Club – MusicBox

Here’s my map of places that I thought looked interesting, green icons are the ones which we visited over 16 days, and blue dots are places that I sadly didn’t get the opportunity to check out this time.

One of the places that I had no hesitation adding to the map was Oreryu Shio Ramen, purely to try the garlic butter cheese ramen. I’ll say that again: garlic butter cheese ramen. It’s a chain store, but each location seems to offer something slightly different, so we decided to go to what was described as the ‘main store’ in Shibuya, just a 10-minute walk from the famous intersection. Here’s the video that whetted my appetite for this.

@tinainmelb still not over this garlic butter cheese ramen 😭🍜 #oreryushioramen #ramen #japan #japantravel #japanfood #japanramen #tokyo #tokyoeats #tokyofood #shinjuku ♬ I Got It – thuy

Lots of things are different in Japan, and that includes how you order at a lot of restaurants. Oreryu Shio Ramen is one of probably hundreds of restaurants in Toko where instead of ordering at the table, you order at a vending machine. It took a moment to figure out the sequence of steps – insert money, make your selection, collect the ticket and then hand tickets to the server – requesting any customisations at that stage. We were warned that the garlic butter ramen was spicy, and when places warn you something is spicy it’s usually a good idea to listen, but we decided to go ahead anyway.

Our order consisted of two garlic cheese butter ramen with chicken karaage topping (bottom, below), shrimp wonton ramen (top right) and pork ramen (top left), and four of us shared a plate of shiso gyoza (not pictured because they disappeared too quickly!), everything washed down with an orange soda.

The food arrived quickly, far quicker than it has ever arrived in the UK. The Japanese people know that ramen is not a food to be lingered over, they’re in and out before the broth has had time to cool.

The chicken karaage was top-notch. Seasoned incredibly well and somehow still crispy despite being half submerged in the broth. The garlic butter was a great addition, thickening the broth and adding a lovely smooth texture. If I’m honest, I’m not sure what the cheese added, as it was quite mild and I couldn’t really taste it in the mix of other flavours. There were lots of pots of interesting-looking things on the table to add and customise the food, but I wasn’t feeling brave enough to try those on day one of the trip! It turns out that the spiciness was more a pungency from the intense garlic than a chilli type of heat.

Overall, I really liked the vibe of the restaurant and a particular highlight was when I somehow managed to spill water over two friends. In terms of the food, it was very well priced but I did feel that something was missing from the ramen – the noodles were the right hardness for me (firm) and the broth was flavourful, but after a while, everything just tasted of garlic (which I suppose being two days off Halloween was appropriate!).

If you’re in Shibuya and looking for a solid 7 out of 10 mean, then Oreryu Shio Ramen is worth adding to your map!

Ramen Resolution – Gyuro Ramen

Ramen Resolution – Gyuro Ramen

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Perhaps better known on these shores for deep-dish pizza pies, Chicago served up some really excellent ramen.

After a failed attempt a couple of years ago, I eventually made it to Chicago! With only a few days in town I had a list of things that I wanted to check out, and I can confirm that windy city ramen was firmly on that list!

A good thing about having a close friend in town is being able to rely on their tried and trusted recommendations, so it was on Melissa’s advice that we headed to Gyuro Ramen in the West Loop district of the city.

Some ramen joints go for the minimalist zen vibe. Pale woods, uncluttered surfaces and whisper-volume instrumental music. Gyuro Ramen is NOT one of those places.

Interior of a resturant

Think the neon lights of Akihabara or the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku’s Omoide Yokocho and you’re someway to the Gyuro Ramen ambience.  On the wall, an oversized cartoon of Godzilla tucks into a bowl of noodles and paper lanterns dangle overhead. A cartoon of Godzilla eating noodles

This was also my first time (as far as I can remember) trying beef broth. It’s very common to see pork and chicken-based broths, and it’s not uncommon to see seafood- or vegetable-based soup. But I’ve not had beef-based ramen before so whilst there were also duck and seaweed-flavoured ramen it was a no-brainer, I needed to try the beef!

There is a long list of appetiser options. If I’d planned properly I’d have arrived hungrier so that I could try more than one, but as it was we shared a portion of Wagyu truffle wontons which were phenomenal.

Wagyu wontons

There were a couple of different options for ramen and lots of customisations available, including different levels of spice and additional broth flavours. I’d like to have tried the creamy mushroom addition! However, I was in the mood to keep things a bit more simple, so went for the signature gyukotsu (translation: beef bone) ramen with extra fishcake slices because the vibrancy of the pink swirl brings me joy. Melissa ordered classic shoyu ramen with added corn. Each bowl came in at around $18, which feels on par with London ramen prices, but much more expensive than ramen in Japan.

Both bowls arrived very quickly and were served with soft-boiled eggs, thin noodles, green onion and bamboo shoots, as well as our additional toppings.

two bowls of ramen noodles

The gyukotso broth was smooth and creamy, bamboo shoots still retained some of their crunch and the charred edges of the thick slice of beef added a BBQ flavour. Melissa’s clear beef broth was lovely, and decidedly more healthy tasting.

Attentive service is great, but did feel a little rushed out of the restaurant – our bowls were cleared the instant that our chopsticks hit the table. I wouldn’t have minded that if there was a queue of customers, but it was early on a Monday evening and there were plenty of spare seats.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the ramen and would definitely return mostly to try more of the appetisers and would be tempted to splash out on the premium gyukotsu ramen for a whopping $30 to see if it’s worth the price.

Check out Gyuro Ramen on Instagram.

Ramen Resolution: Basebowl Ramen

Ramen Resolution: Basebowl Ramen

Reading Time: 3 minutes


After a delicious ramen experience at Sakuramen when I last visited Washington D.C. in 2018 I was excited to check out somewhere new and see what else the city had to offer.

It was only after walking a considerable distance that I found out that the place I’d had my sights set on, Kaiju Ramen, was closed. Google Maps tried its hardest to send me to Torai Sushi, but that wasn’t going to cut it! I needed that silky broth!

Venturing a little further afield, I decided to head to Basebowl Ramen (or here on Instagram). Walking in Washington DC igenerally means seeing lots of cool places, but the route from Capital Hill to Navy Yard was pretty uninspiring.

I liked the pun (this restaurant is directly opposite the Washington Nationals baseball stadium) but was ultimately a little disappointed with my experience.

The main issue that I had with Basebowl Ramen was the portion size. The bowl was physically much smaller than many others, so whilst I added some additional toppings it felt more like a snack than a meal. Fortunately, I had clocked the small bowls on arrival so I also ordered the ume karrage (plum fried chicken) and didn’t leave hungry, but don’t think it needed the sweet chilli sauce as well as the spicy mayonaise.

I’m not ignorant of the fact that these noodles are essentially designed for the mass market of spectators heading to, or leaving from, a baseball game. Ramen is actually a genius idea for that because it’s quick, filling and easy to offer customisation options. It was highly possible that the noodles could have been sat soaking up sauce for too long to retain their bite. However, these weren’t bad noodles in terms of quality, although the egg was perhaps on the hard-boiled end of jammy.

Basebowl offer a wide variety of different options, each with some kind of baseball name (Switch Hitter, Batter’s Favourite and Strike Out). I chose to keep things simple with the signature tonkotsu broth and some added corn. The pork belly, floating in a (small) pool of creamy broth, was fatty and melted in my mouth.

The service in the restaurant was friendly and my ‘server’ (that’s an American term which I’m not sure I’m entirely onboard with) was helpful and attentive. The interior of the restaurant was modern, with a central bar in prime position to watch sports on big screens. A bunch of people in one corner were enjoying a speciality happy-hour sake bomb, which I have to admit that I regret not trying.

Overall, I’d rate my experience at Basebowl Ramen a 2 out of 5. The service and atmosphere were nice, the noodles overall tasted good, but the overdone egg and the small portion size mean points are docked. That being said, it’s always worth trying out new restaurants. I don’t regret eating there, just begrudge paying normal ramen prices for 50% of the product.

Ramen Resolution: Ebisu

Ramen Resolution: Ebisu

Reading Time: 2 minutes


After a week long holiday in the south of France and extraordinary wedding of a close friend, what I needed was delicious noodles. Ebisu in Toulouse did not disappoint!

Orders are placed via a touchscreen unit in the entrance. This reminded me of one of the very first ramen experiences I had in Japan, so that was some nice nostalgia!

The restaurant is located near the very popular public square at Le Capitole and has options of indoor or al fresco dining. There were no tables available outside, but inside there was plenty of space.

The menu options are simple but range from ramen to yakisoba, and they also have a cold ramen offering.

It has been 35 degrees for most of the week and as appealing as a cold dish sounded, I had to try the classic Shoyu ramen, I added an extra egg because why not! I also ordered gyoza and a large sparkling water, because I was super dehydrated after walking 30,000 steps around Toulouse!

The food arrived quickly, and was everything that you could have wanted. No frills, no fuss, just excellent noodles.

I think the noodles were probably handmade, they had a rustic-ness to them, almost like very long spatzle! That meant that some bits were chewier than others, which was a fun quality. Toppings included spring onion (which could have been sliced more finely), bamboo shoots and a nori sheet. The nori sheet was thicker than the ones that I have typically found in London and elsewhere.

The gyoza were incredible, from the theatrics in the kitchen of the flaming pan to get them crispy, to the plump and tasty dumplings, I couldn’t fault them.

Would it have been interesting for there to have been a French twist – like, we’re in Toulouse, have a sausage version, or throw in some cassoulet beans? But, it was a very good bowl of noodles and would definitely return or recommend if you’re passing by and need a quick ramen fix!

Future Leader Scheme: Module One

Future Leader Scheme: Module One

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Last year I was encouraged by my manager* to apply for the Civil Service Future Leader Scheme. I applied without expectation, was invited to a selection interview and heard I’d been selected towards in the autumn. And then…nothing!

For months there was a confusing barrage of messages, emails, virtual meetings and online platform messages, but little-to-no directed learning activity.

In part delays have been due to the COVID pandemic, and I suspect that wrangling 400 students and multiple levels of technology competence is no mean feat. But the course didn’t give me good vibes.

However, I’m writing this post on the train back from Coventry and can honestly say that it was one of the most stimulating courses I’ve attended in some time and a privilege to spend time with an array of people with massively interesting positions and unique challenges.

There were two consistent themes in the discussion for me, one about reflection and one about accountability. Which is why I’m planning to blog about my experience of the scheme; to force myself to reflect on the learning activities, organise my thoughts and set intentions, openly, about putting learning into practice. I can then come back and review these to see whether I have followed through on my intentions, and I welcome that challenge externally too.

As a group we agreed some rules, one of which was about confidentiality. Definitely don’t read this series of blogs looking for the latest scoop! They’ll be high level reflections rather than my verbatim notes and I won’t quote anyone directly. Where possible I’ll try to credit any intellectual property, but it’s not always obvious what is/isn’t IP! If I’ve inadvertently reproduced something without attribution or permission then I’d be happy to edit or remove.

Objectives and Overview of the FLS Module 1 course:

  • Outline the structure of the programme and define a working agreement.
  • Define critical reflection and explore links to self-awareness and leadership.
  • Reflect on values, biases and assumptions which underpin leadership.
  • Consider the impact of a leader’s behaviour on others.
  • Form an Action Learning Set and practice the skills needed.
  • Reflect on aspirations and outline steps needed to achieve them.

We were also asked, as part of the course to ‘share an image of leadership’. There were some great contributions and rationale given, and I’ve made a note to look into the pack behaviour of wolves as a result!

The image that I chose was of the part-submerged US Airways flight 1549, which made an emergency landing on water in January 2009. The pilot of the plane, Chelsey Sullenberger, said in a later interview that “it was comforting to me to know that [the cabin crew] were on the same page, that we were all acting in concert” and about creating the conditions for other people to perform their role effectively.

a plane, US Airways flight 1549, shown half submerged in water following an amergency landing in January 2009 on the Hudson River, New York

Things that I learned (sorry this is a lot of bullet points):


  • Holding up a mirror to ourselves isn’t enough – mirrors can be distorted and we might need some constructive, objective feedback
  • A working agreement is a charter between a group which sets out the norms for how the group intends to operate. It helps to create a safe, supportive space.
  • Try to recognise where your feelings are (and label them – ‘name the demon’) before responding.
  • Reflection is a helpful diagnostic tool and way of embedding learning. We all do it differently and what works for one won’t work for another. Think about getting a better balance between mandated reflection (formal development conversations) and situational or spontaneous reflection.


  • Are our relationships with people different, is knowing people different, as a result of the pandemic? What does leadership look like in that context?
  • The Johari Window wasn’t new as a concept, but it was the first time that I’ve seen it in this way, with the focus being not just on understanding where different traits sit, but what actions we can take through self-disclosure, external feedback and shared exploration.
  • ‘Knowing’ is not just what people tell you or is documented. There are things we know which it is hard to define or articulate.
  • Find ways to seek more information using open questions and strategically deployed silence.
  • We each have values, but those values exist in a hierarchy. Can also consider ‘anti-values’.
  • Where do values come from in a secular society?
  • Emotional intelligence varies, be aware of, accommodate and support neurodivergence.
  • Can also use empathy to find common ground and positives. Where does somebody get their energy from? Doesn’t always have to be a negative emotion/situation that is being empathised with.

Values and objectives

  • What do you want, and what are you prepared to do for it?
  • As you get more senior more people are looking towards you. It’s lonely at the top and you can trust feedback less. Find a tribe who can give the honest feedback you need.
  • Make one change at a time so you can determine cause and effect.
  • There are leaders and there are influencers. If they’re not the same people, find and connect them.
  • Consider the influence of culture on how you present yourself and how other people interpret you.
  • When the rate of learning > rate of change = thriving conditions.

Things I’ll (try) to do differently as a result:

  • Be more intentional about reflection – allocate a half day each week
  • Ask my team and colleagues for more feedback on how I work – including perhaps asking them to draw a picture of my leadership!
  • Review my personal objectives to consider where I can make them more values-based, which feels more natural and comfortable to me than what I see as destination-based goals.
  • Push myself to be more forthcoming at an earlier stage.

An activity that I enjoyed was to draw ‘our vision of a leader in the 21st century’. My contribution is below, without interpretation because I’d be interested in how this is perceived! Drop me a tweet or leave a comment (not about my artistic prowess please)!

drawing of a figure with brain and heart identified and linked with a green arrow, a series of connected dots, some of which are obscured by a dark shape and some are illuminate by light

The next module of the course isn’t until the summer, but there are virtual events and sessions interspersed so I intend to cover those in much the same way.


* I have a slight philosophical issue with ‘manager’ which I’d like to explore more some other time. To me, the idea of ‘managing’ carries a connotation of coping, rather than excelling and improving. For that reason, I’m more drawn to leadership than management.

Ramen Resolution: Panton Yokocho

Ramen Resolution: Panton Yokocho

Reading Time: 4 minutes

My Ramen Resolution ( to eat more ramen and blog about them) began life in 2017. Four years later, here I am still finding new noodles to devour!

For our work Christmas social we went on a treasure hunt around London’s glittering West End, and along the way we passed this incredible kinetic sculpture. I knew I would have to come back and find out more about Panton Yokocho!

advertising stand with moving noodles in a bowl

The original branch is in Mayfair (ooh fancy!) and I haven’t made it there yet, but another branch on Panton Street opened recently above the Japan Centre, which is really the ideal location, especially when you’re off the the theatre just around the corner!

From the outside it looks a bit like you’re just walking in to a generic Zone 1 office building. The moving noodles from December had been taken inside, so there really wasn’t much to indicate we were in the right place. However, stepping inside was like being transported to the hustle and bustle of a the Tokyo back streets (note: ‘yokocho’ translates as alleyway).

Think neon lights, colourful lanterns, retro signage and a banging j-pop soundtrack. A little like this…

mtthwhgn seated under lanterns at Yokocho

The menu concept is highlights of ‘regional noodle cuisine’, allowing you to sample different styles from across Japan.

I’d booked a table, but that seemed to confuse the staff a little, so I think it’s safe to say that walk-in’s are pretty popular.

To drink, we ordered a Matcha Detox (left, £6), which doesn’t appear on the online menus, so might be a special; and a Cedroni (right, £9), which is a take on a negroni, but made with tarusake rather than gin. I suppose this is to give additional woodiness, but to be honest I just enjoyed it and didn’t think too much about it. I was interested to try the sake flight, which seemed good value (£9) and the Blue Hawaii Melon Cream Soda, but they will have to wait for another day.

cocktails at Yokocho

The food arrived all together, which I don’t hate, but it does mean eating things in a slightly funny order so that the noodles don’t continue softening, and can mean that the side dished get a bit cold. But remember that ramen is designed to be a quick meal.

ramen noodles and food at Yokocho

  • Yokocho Ramen (bottom, £13.90) – ironically, this originates in London, so doesn’t really play into the ‘regional noodles’ vibe, but it was great. You probably know by know that tonkotsu is my favourite for the lingering creamy coating it can leave on your mouth. This is a different, clearer and saltier style of broth, but it worked really well and the presence of a naruto fishcake was a bonus.
  • Kumamoto Tonkotsu Ramen (top, also £13.90) – Nick tried this and thought it was delicious and garlicky. Special mention was given to the nitamago egg bobbing gently in the broth.
  • Cheese Tsukuni Yakitori (£7.50) – these were a little like the meatballs that you get in Ikea covered with a grilled dairlylea cheese slice. It was tasty and the chicken was very moist, but on reflection I’d probably go for the fried chicken karrage next time.
  • Shio Kosho Wings – we had visited on ‘Wing Wednesday’ where a side of wings was £4.00 instead of the usual £6.50. The wings were very crispy but definitely needed the addition of some Shichimi powder for a bit of additional flavour.
  • Pumpkin Croquette Bun (£4.90) – I always really want to like a pumpkin bun, but in reality they can taste a bit like a veggie burger. The spicy mayonnaise was a hit!

I don’t usually review the toilets in the places I go, but on this occasion they get a special mention too for the (deliberately?) badly printed martial art movie wallpaper, which I adored.

cartoon face on retro wallpaper

Overall, Yokocho was a little on the expensive side compared to other ramen joints, but this is about as central as it’s possible to get so I think there’s probably a bit of an uplift because of that. However, both ramens and the side dishes were great and would definitely make a return visit if I was in the area because you can also pop into the Japan Centre and pick up some cool stuff there too.

Here’s to another year of noodley goodness!

Ramen Resolution – Mikawa Japan

Ramen Resolution – Mikawa Japan

Reading Time: 3 minutes


I have a long-standing theory that the best Japanese restaurants specialise in a particular dish. I would always recommend exclusive sushi places, dedicated ramen joints, or restaurants that only sell okonomiyaki.

However, that theory has been blown clean out the water with a trip to Mikawa Japan, which offers a range of sushi, sashimi and ramen.

My visit ahead of a gig at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire was a bit of a last minute decision (thanks in part to the Victoria Line doing everything in its power to mess up my journey). The original plan has been to go for ramen at Shoryu at Ichiba Japan Centre in Westfield, but I thought that might be cutting things too fine for the start of the concert.

So Google Maps suggested Mikawa instead. Initially I was sceptical – the website is pretty sketchy and it was tricky to find details of the menu other than some photos which looked like they’d been taken on a potato.

Mikawa is one of those traditional Japanese restaurants – think sumo wrestler wood cut illustrations on the walls and red lanterns. However, they brought a Western vibe (and a great pre gig warmup) with a 90’s pop playlist!

I visited with my sushi obsessed friend, so we picked the Mikawa Set (an 8 piece salmon sushi roll, 6 pieces of nigiri all of different types and 3 types of sashimi and then we both opted for the Tonkotsu ramen. You know you’re in for a good experience if there is chūhai (essentially it’s a Japnanese alcopop) on the menu too, we chose yuzu and white peach flavours.

The sushi/sashimi arrived first and was marvellous.

My personal highlight was the tuna sashimi was so fresh, slightly salty and almost meaty rather than fishy. Nick loved the salmon sashimi, which I agree was also really good. The other stand out item was the wasabi, which was less lurid green than you find in some places, and has a texture similar to crunchy peanut butter. The only downside was that I wanted more, but we also had a bowl of ramen to come.

The noodles arrived as a ‘main course’ which is better than some places that just bring it as and when. We both noted how nice the bowls were too.

The noodles themselves were overdone (in that they were soft when they first arrived and then they continue to soften as you eat too). Nick wasn’t sure about the addition of ‘spinach’ as a topping, but I have to disagree; I thought it added a different more earthy dimension. The broth was delicious. It could have been more unxious (spelling?) but it was smooth and rich with a subtle sweetness. Two half eggs were also slightly overdone, but had so much flavour. And the pork slices were beyond great!

I would go back to Mikawa in a heartbeat.

It’s great to find new places, especially in areas of town that I’m less familiar with, because it’s an incentive to return and do more exploring. I’d make sure I go hungry beforehand though, so I could get even more sushi!

Ramen Resolution – Ippudo Villers St

Ramen Resolution – Ippudo Villers St

Reading Time: 2 minutes


I’m back back back again with another ramen blog, and it feels like an eternity since my last post.

Post lockdown life has resumed and I was heading to see one of my favourite artists (L Devine, stream her album, buy her merch!) on Tuesday at a gig that has been postponed twice. I decided to swing by Ippudo on Villers Street for a quick bowl of noodles beforehand.

My very first foray into the world of restaurant ramen was at an Ippudo in Tokyo, so it always has an air of nostalgia.

I’ve walked past the Villers Street branch a lot (like, a lot) but this was my first time popping inside. It’s a small branch and the menu is limited. There are appetisers, but they’re only available as ‘specials’ not as standard menu items.

One of the things I like most about ramen is the ‘no messing’ approach. We’d been sat only for a few moments before our order had been taken and steaming bowls had been presented to the table.

Nick ordered the Akamaru Modern Special (a classic tonkotsu with garlic and miso) and I plumped for the Hakata Nikuton (tonkotsu with a sweet and spicy pork) which was a location exclusive.

Before tucking in to the noodles I tried the strawberry sake. It was really tasty cloudy-style sake and came out a slightly less lurid colour than the bottle indicated; but made from American rice and American strawberries it felt a little inauthentic! (side note: apparently this sake is good mixed 50:50 with milk…which I’m curious to try!).

My noodle broth was hotter than the surface of the sun. Sadly I scalded my tongue on the very first mouthful. Although that didn’t affect the flavour, it did affect my enjoyment! The broth was rich and had that texture where you’re lips stick together momentarily, even after a good lick! The spicy pork was very thinly sliced, and almost dissolved on your tongue like those mouthwash strips that were popular a few years ago…but less minty.

Nick’s was delivered in what I would call ‘pho style’  with toppings served separately. I quite like that idea.

But here’s his review in his own words:

Now, I also like a good ramen spoon, but my personal preference is for the flat ladle-type spoon rather than the Chinese-style spoon. Different spoons for different folks I guess!

I’ll will 100% be back to Ippudo Villiers Street – it’s fast, it’s convenient and it’s delicious. My only tip, give the boiling liquid a minute to cool down!