United Ramen, Angel: I want to like United Ramen because it is local for me. But they do strange things with their ramen– like add Yorkshire pudding — and their noodles are kinda sad, like from a package. The service has been sweet and attentive on both my visits, although I learned the hard way during my first visit to shell out the £1 for the bottle of water or else you will find yourself begging every five minutes to have your 4 oz glass of tap water refilled. I’ve ordered the same bowl of spicy ramen on both visits and the first bowl was colorful and, well, spicy. The second bowl was not very colorful and not very spicy. Hmmm. I have a bad feeling I will find myself back here quite often in one of those “Well, I don’t really want to go there but it IS close so…” The Loos: Narrow, green. The Verdict: Fine.
Portal, Clerkenwell: Portal has been around for years and I’ve always wanted to try it. So after a particularly long day at work, I decided to drop in and have some snacks at the bar. The vibe was weird…there was really no one there. Friendly bar service but oily, burnt pimientos de padron. No thanks. Also, the place really smelled like gas but the staff looked at me like I was crazy when I said so. The Loos: Unepxlored: The Verdict: Meh.
Ippudo, Tottenham Court: Truth be told, after reading all the London restaurant blogs, I really wanted to go to Kanada-ya. But the queue was too long and much like I don’t like running for trains, buses and elevators, I also don’t wait to eat in lines longer than 10 minutes. So I went to Ippudo instead, where there was no queue but still a buzzy, full atmosphere. The staff all shouted at me in Japanese when I entered, which was slightly alarming. (I may have been a little fragile from drinks on Blackheath for the fireworks the night before.) I liked the noodles at Ippudo — snappy, dense — but I wanted a soy egg, not a regular one. The Loos: Some of the nicest I’ve seen. Very clean and neat and spa-like. Well done, Ippudo. The Verdict: I sort of want to go back but I want to try Kanada-ya first before I do.
Tayyabs, Whitechapel: My friends B&A emailed me as I was leaving work the other night and asked the question to which there is only one answer: “Do you want to go to Tayyabs?” I said “Yes, I will be there by 7:30 pm.” And I got straight off one train and onto another, in search of lamb chops and all the smoky daal. And while the table of 20 young, drunk investment bankers was certainly distracting, it didn’t distract us from devouring all the food. Our server: “I think it’s too much. You’ve ordered too much.” Us: “Have you seen us eat here before? It won’t be a problem.” The Loos: Quite fancy and new upstairs with good tilework. The verdict: Go and go and go again.