Saturday, 4 October 2014

United Ramen

I recently visited United Ramen, who are newly opened in Islington's Upper Street. They are not new to the London food scene, having previously had a pop up.

Don't worry, I am not pretending to be "up" on the pop up scene and the latest eateries. I am far too disorganised, far too busy in my working life and struggling to balance all the facets of my life to keep up.

No, I was told all about United Ramen by the wonderful Kavey of She had visited the pop up and enjoyed it. She and I were long overdue a meet up, so she suggested we pop out for a nice dinner and that I meet two other of her foodie friends. 

So we assembled on a slightly chilly late Summer evening outside United Ramen. We arrived unfashionably early (ie before opening time), so we shivered a little whilst we chatted about life and food. 

When we got in, we were ready for some nourishing ramen and slurpy soup. Kavey had even brought her legendary ramen apron!

We settled down at a table right next to this colourful graffiti painting of a steaming bowl of ramen. All of the art is by Daisuke Sakaguchi, a London based artist,whose art explores his British and Japanese cultural heritage. He qualified from the highly prestigious Central St Martins art school in London.

The overall feel is light, bright, fun and informal. It's a Japan-meets-London atmosphere and environment. 

United Ramen has an open kitchen for the nosey among us. I actually love peeking into restaurant kitchens when I can. Seeing people who are experts at their craft is something I enjoy. However, I couldn't indulge myself this time, as I was with three other people, and it would have been rude to ignore the others and not participate in the conversation for gawking at the cooks!

I opted for the ribs as a starter. These were beautiful; well marinaded so that the meat had strongly taken on the marinade flavours, cooked so that the ribs were a little crusty on the outside but soft and fleshy underneath, I really enjoyed this and eagerly anticipated the main course; RAMEN!

The ramen bowl was hot, steaming and inviting. The stock was not perhaps as rich and flavourful as at Shoryu, but I can't complain that it was bland. It had flavour, but could have done with a little more. 

My bowl was generously topped with pork, a wee bit of crackling (one of my favourite things) and two half eggs. 

If you know me, you will realise that I never eat eggs. I have disliked them all of my life, something I was told by a doctor was down to having a mild allergy to them.

BUT - I ate these eggs and thoroughly enjoyed them. I can hardly believe something I usually avoid and dislike so much could be so pleasant. The yellows were creamy, the white a little tough on the outside and flavoured with soy.

How did they achieve this marvel?

The guys at United Ramen told me that the secret to making their eggs was this: "Soft boil egg (5-min) marinate 2h in a soy, mirin and vinegar then slice!" They've made it sound ridiculously easy. If you do give this a go, please bear in mind you will need to prepare many more eggs than you eventually need. The peeling will be difficult and the slicing an art!

It was time to move to the desserts! I will confess that I have never tried Mochi before. Kavey said that I had to give them a go. The outside of the little balls are made from a rice flour dough. But not the kind of dough you might be familiar which is used to make rice noodles or the outside of Cheung Fun. This is a chewy dough, achieved through pounding the dough repeatedly, changing the structure of the carbohydrate chains.

These little treats were another revelation for me. I went for the yuzu, coconut and raspberry flavours. Mochis are typically filled with a cold paste, perhaps of ganache or red bean. These, however, were filled with ice cream. The contrast of chewy outside (with substantial "bite" and the soft, yielding ice cream was delightful. The strength of flavour of the three ice creams a welcome surprise. I will be seeking these glorious little treats elsewhere now that I have been intiated!

I had a very enjoyable meal at United Ramen, and would go back there.

Snigdha, Kavey and her friends paid for their meal. 


  1. Wasn't it a lovely evening? Was a pleasure to see you and our two fellow diners.

    Agree completely with your review - a so-so broth (decent but not as good as the best available in London) let down the rest of the ingredients, which were good. The starters, drinks and mochi desserts were all good.

    Can I recommend you check out Kanada-ya, which I reviewed recently. This is definitely authentic Japanese ramen in the Fukuoka style and I love it!

    1. Hello Kavey,

      It was a very good evening out! Lots of natter, good food and great company. Really hard to beat! Thanks for making it such a memorable and pleasant evening!

      I am delighted that you agree with my review. I try very hard to be fair. And I also try to let readers know where my view is very much my own and that things can be a matter of different tastes and preferences.

      I found your Kanada-Ya review here:
      I think I will have to give it a go if you've given it your seal of approval as being authentic!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      very best wishes