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
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.
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.
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.
338 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8QH
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
Address: 426 Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8LF
Telephone: 020 7346 0098
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.
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.
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.
So.Much.Food. From sushi and brownies to chicken and tortillas and crepes I have actually only recently regained my appetite after our gluttonous evening in preparation for the brand new festival Brixton Flavours. With the actual day not until Sunday 26th October we were invited to see what the whole thing was all about this week and also apparently to eat our whole body weight in food.
Brixton Flavours states that it is a festival to introduce people to the wide variety of cuisines and restaurants that our beloved hometown has to offer. It was clear from the way the organisers spoke that that they were committed to making sure that they didn’t just go to the well-known haunts in town, but to showcase all that Brixton has on offer. This is something that we at Eat in Brixton are always striving to achieve so it’s brilliant to see others with such passion as well. The day ticket holders are invited to sample secret dishes not usually available on the menu from over 22 restaurants around Brixton (full list of those participating can be found here). You will also be given 15 Brixton pounds to spend in any of the participating restaurants, so incorporating the idea of boosting the local economy.
address: Market House, 443 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London, SW9 8LN
Telephone: 020 7095 9443
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