Koi Ramen Bar now qualifies as a Brixton institution. It’s progressed from a stall in Brixton Station Road, through a unit in Pop Brixton and now just returned to one of the railway arches opposite to where they started. We’ve looked at it before in it’s previous incarnations, here and here. Now, like some other Brixton originals, it’s part of a chain, but has really found it’s feet. We went at lunchtime and sat outside, although there is some space inside that will be needed in winter months.
There’s a really short menu with four types of ramen, a few extra toppings and different types of gyoza, should you want a starter. You order at the counter but the dishes are brought to you. We went for the old scool Shoyu and the pure white tonkotsu with an extra nitamago marinated egg. The old scool shoyu (their spelling) is, as the name suggests, the original ramen, with a soy based soup with chashu belly pork. Tofu is available as an option. This was my choice and it was great and well presented in a proper bowl. Much better than the paper cups used on previous visits.
The tonkotsu, described as their “signature dish” , is a creamy pork noodle soup with chashu belly pork again, plus kikurage mushrooms and spring onions. Given that this is a meat broth there’s no tofu option. The egg was soft-boiled as required. My companion enjoyed it, but thought it might have benefited from a touch of chilli, to liven it up.
Ramen, at least in Japan, is real fast food. A lunchtime snack that’s eaten quickly and with relish. If this is what you are looking for this is now easily the best option in Brixton, benefiting from the narrow focus on its speciality. There are drinks available including Japanese beers and sake, but we just shared a bottle of still water. So the bill came to only £16.70, allowing for a £2.00 off lunch deal. This could well become a lunchtime regular.
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 →
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 →
This is an old Brixton favourite and always full in the evening. It is tucked away in a road – well little more than an alleyway – off Atlantic Road in the heart of Brixton. It describes itself as a Japanese noodle and sushi bar but so far we have not tasted the sushi as there is such a good sushi bar just round the corner in Atlantic Road (Ichiban, see above for a review).
The restaurant consists of two rooms filled with benches and rough wood tables and sharing is a must. It also give you the opportunity to decide what you might like from the menu as you ogle the other dinner companion’s choices. The menu is extensive, so a bit of help in making choices is essential. There is a series of all in one meals – Bento boxes, Don Buri (rice with toppings, miso soup on the side), rice dishes including curry and vegetarian options, Ramen (noodles in the miso soup with toppings – beware the temperature!), fried noodles including Yaki soba (thin ones) and Yaki Udon (thick ones) and various curry noodles – and that’s just the top-level categories so you probably see the choice problem. There are ten Bento boxes so a pin might be a good accompaniment to a meal here.
As well as an extensive food menu it also has an extensive choice of drinks. As well as the usual Asahi and Kirin there is also wine (including Japanese wine) and a list of soft drinks which they make up on the spot. We saw carrot and apple, mango and other healthy looking five of the day type things being concocted while we were there. We stuck to beer which is an ideal accompaniment to the Ramen with roast salmon and Oyako Don (chicken on top of the rice).
All that we tried was lovely with the proviso of being aware that any noodles in soup will be very, very hot. The ambience is buzzy and it is open every day for lunch and dinner although all our trips have been for dinner. The service is friendly and swift. They want to get you moving so it is not a place of rest but fast food Japanese style served efficiently. We would definitely recommend this for before or after the Ritzy when you are working to a timetable.