Lunchtime Ramen

Ramen is trendy and I’m a great fan. Particularly at lunchtime. But despite Brixton’s ‘foodie’ reputation, it’s not so easy to find, particularly on weekdays. So, for those who share my addiction, here’s a brief guide of what’s available.

Ramen is seen as a classic Japanese dish, although I’ve been surprised to discover that it originated in China and has only become dominant since the second world war, when cheap wheat imports became available. Named for the eponymous type of noodles, it’s served invariably with a tasty stock plus garnishes, usually meat and vegetables.

Here’s four places in Brixton that I considered for my Ramen fix, but you will see that early in the week there’s only one or two of them that are actually open. I might have missed somewhere so don’t hesitate to let me know. Continue reading

Donburi & Co

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Brixton Station Road

This is a really useful addition to what Brixton has to offer, with simple but tasty Korean and Japanese food from a short menu. It’s aimed mainly at the takeaway market but there’s space at a couple of counters with high stools for those who can’t  wait to taste the food. It’s housed in a small shop front that’s had a chequered history. The planned burger bar failed to open because of problems with the ventilation.

You can choose between donburi (Japanese rice bowl dish); bibimbap (Korean mixed rice); or hirata buns (Japanese steamed buns), and all come with a variety of meat or vegetables.

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Iz Sakeya Sushi

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address: Pop Brixton far aisle ground floor

website: in course of preparation

On a bleak Saturday we took the family to Pop Brixton to try some of their new offerings. Sakeya Sushi is definitely new, so with most of us being sushi fans, we settled on that. We do like Pop Brixton but most of the restaurants have only limited places to sit and on Saturday afternoon the place was heaving, with no space at either end in the general seating areas. Iz Sakeya has been creative and provided a ledge to balance the sushi on, but we had to stand, with the result that it was inevitably a quick meal.

The menu is short – Iz Sakeya specialises in two sakes (sparkling (£10) and premium (£45)) and mainly salmon and rice sushi.  In fact they say they have head-to-tail salmon cuisine but they do say they can also cater for vegetarians. We had sushi (2), sashimi (2) and what was called a Poke Don salad, with more salmon. The salmon and avocado rolls were lovely. The three pieces of sashimi (a Ngiri set, with salmon, sea bass and tuna) were great, with two being delicately seared via a blow torch. The Poke Don salad had avocado, edamame, salmon, rocket and rice. The rice in all the dishes was really good with the right consistency; far from the mush you get from some of the chains.img_0115img_0116img_0117

We did enjoy what turned out to be a snack, although when one of our party saw the size of the plates, he chose instead to visit the burger bar next door for a rather good looking burger plus a portion of chips, which we all were happy to share. Those of us who had the sushi (without the sake) were pleased with the meal, although don’t go there hungry – just think of it as a potential first course. The bill came to £31 for 4 people, without any drinks.

Afterwards we went off to Parissi in Atlantic Road for coffee and cakes.

Okan Ramen

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338 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8QH

Email: Okanbrixtonvillage@gmail.com   

www.okanramen.com

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 6PM-11PM, Sat-Sun: 12Noon-11PM

There is now plenty of choice for Brixton fans of ramen – basically Japanese style noodles in soup. Oken Ramen, situated in Coldharbour Lane right next to Shrub & Shutter, is a new initiative from the more longstanding Okan Okonomiyaki, which serves Japanese style savoury pancakes in Brixton Village – see our review here. Continue reading

Ichiban – A Revisit

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Address: 58a Atlantic Rd, Brixton, London, SW9 8PY

Telephone: 020 7738 7006

Having visited Ichiban for over 10 years now it is still very clear why it is our favourite for sushi in Brixton. It has had a recent facelift in the kitchen, perhaps a sign of the involvement from the younger members of the family owners.

We visited on a Monday evening after sampling some of the wine from next door at Chix and Bux (which by the way are opening another outlet in Herne Hill later this year!). Monday in Brixton is always tricky and this is one of the few restaurants which is open, so it was a little busier than usual.

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Nanban

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Address: 426 Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8LF

Telephone: 020 7346 0098

Website: http://www.nanban.co.uk/

This is the first restaurant opened by 2011 MasterChef champion Tim Anderson and … it is in Brixton. This is in the revamped Gyoza (RIP – many an enjoyable evening spent there!) restaurant after some large changes to the décor but keeping some nostalgia from a building that used to be the eel and pie shop. There are regular tables and some “carriages” for lots of people to sit together. There are also long cork low bench-like tables which are OK for two people but any more and you get a crick in your neck as it’s like playing tennis. There was a bit of space when we arrived on a Monday evening but by the time we left it was full and really humming.

The long menu is on their website so we won’t repeat it here but just to say that there are certainly adaptations to Brixton cuisine and we couldn’t find much like the menu we enjoyed when Tim visited Market House last summer  – see our review here. You choose from small plates and big plates. We decided to wait for another trip to try the twice cooked pig tripe, and anyway, we thought our choices daring enough.

There were three of us so one of us chose three small plates: the Ackee and Saltfish Korokke (Potato, ackee, and saltfish croquettes with katsu sauce), Brixton Market Salad (“Whatever looks good in Brixton Market”, which turned out to be avocado with a Japanese dressing) and Chicken Karaage (Deep-fried marinated chicken thighs). All three were fantastic. The chicken was succulent and had the perfect amount of chilli. We couldn’t taste the ackee so much in the croquettes but the saltfish definitely made an impact.nab04

We also went for a big plate of Curry Goat Tsukemen (Curry goat dipping ramen with ½ tea-pickled egg, seafood sawdust, and Scotch bonnet-pickled bamboo shoots). I was warned about the pickled bamboo and was very glad I was. My tentative first bite turned my mouth on fire and I carefully shifted them to the side of the plate – too much of an adventure for me and I hadn’t brought enough tissues. The goat was succulent, with little bone and not to much fat. A really great dish with more to it than West indian curry goat – if only the cardamom pods. It had a real depth of flavour and I would definitely order it again.

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The last guest ordered Mentaiko Pasta (Spaghetti in chilli-cured cod roe sauce with onsen egg, Parmesan, pancetta, aonori, and black pepper). This was a bit like a spaghetti carbonara but with extra umami from the cod roe – unexpected but excellent..

We washed this down with tap water, a Camden Lager and a glass of Sanglier white wine. This is one to add to our list of where to eat on Mondays. The bill came to  £44.15 including service and the drinks.

Nanban at Market House

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address: Market House, 443 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London, SW9 8LN

Telephone: 020 7095 9443

email: info@market-house.co.uk

http://www.market-house.co.uk/

This month the 2011 the Masterchef winner Tim Anderson is visiting Brixton and so your intrepid reviewers sneaked in (incognito as usual) to provide a review to urge … yes we say urge (which is about as strong as it gets) to make a booking. And try, if you can, to go with a party of at least four, for reasons that will become clear. The restaurant for the month is now called Nanban – southern Japanese cooking. But first about Market House. This is just a canvas with a large room, various wooden tables, space outside and noise just on the edge of providing a sore throat the next day. You are greeted by the most divine waiter (his description not ours) who shows you to your table and keeps you entertained throughout the meal. Continue reading