It feels like my life consists of pop up restaurants at the minute, maybe it's because I'm a sucker for anything given the label 'limited edition'. Being a slave to the pop up trend aside, let me just say this, United Ramen is one of the best places I've eaten at for a while and I'm more than thrilled to discover they'll be opening a permanent restaurant on Upper Street soon. The fact that the restaurant is a three minute walk from my boyfriend's flat is another bonus.
What is United Ramen I hear you ask? Well it's a modern ramen concept created by American-Brit Aaron who believes in taking this traditional Asian meal and adding a modern twist whilst creating culinary mash-ups. Sounds good right? The event I choose to attend was United Ramen vs USA where Japanese soul food was given a southern American twist i.e. some of my favourite food types, this sounded perfect.
The event was being held in House of Wolf and whilst I am in close proximity to this bar most days I'd never actually been inside. I don't want to say too much about the place as it's not really United Ramen's fault the bar staff are rude and the drinks are over priced but I do not like this place. However, United Ramen had positioned themselves upstairs with their lovely staff and had turned the space into a warm and friendly restaurant for the evening. The area wasn't cluttered which is a good reflection on Japanese interior and with a few simple touches in the form of flags, Johnny Cash records and table dressings it had a nice vibe. I particulry liked the idea of using the menus as place settings with comment boxes to score each dish as you went along, very clever.
We began our feast with a shared bowl of Sansho Pepper Popcorn which came with the warning that a slight numbing feeling may be experienced. The sensation was subtle and the popcorn was delicious with a slight tint of spice, as a fan of savoury popcorn over sweet I thought this was delicious.
Next up was the cold starter; Sweet Potato and Crispy Chicken Skin Maki (Rolls). First of all I though 6 sushi rolls per person was extremely generous and I'm glad there were so many because they really were a pleasure to eat. Normally I'm not a fan of sushi rolls, I don't like the pickled vegetables / seaweed filling so this southern American twist on a traditional Japanese meal was most welcomed. The rice was perfectly cooked so the rolls held together well and the filling was sweet with the sweet potato flavour being a strong element.
We were also treated to a second hot starter in the form of Spicy Buffalo Yakitori Hot Wings which really was a stand out dish for me. I love chicken wings and these were expectational, sweet and sticky with the most deliciously addictive mayonnaise.
The main course was BBQ Pulled Chicken, Crispy Bacon and Spicy Buttered Sweetcorn Ramen (Chicken Bone Broth) and not only did it look lovely, it was absolutely delicious. I love ramen, I always think of it as three meals in one as there is so much variety in what is basically a meaty bowl of soup. London has a lot of places that do a great dish so this really had to be a stand out version, fortunately it was. The broth was sweet, the veg was fresh with a crispy bite and the meat was succulent and juicy plus the portion was huge was plenty of noodles.
Originally the ramen broth should have been cooked with mushrooms but as a hater of all things fungi related I asked for mine without. I was able to try the ramen both with and without mushrooms and for some reason the version I had (mushroom free) was much sweeter and more enjoyable. It's funny how such a little vegetable can affect the taste of something so much but my entire group all agreed that the mushroom free version tasted better.
The dessert was Chocolate Ganache Mochi and Strawberry Cheesecake Mochi which is something I've never tried before. To be honest I wasn't that much of a fan, the taste of the chocolate was enjoyable enough but the texture was strange. I know I'm fussy when it comes to dessert because most of the time I'd be happy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream so I'm not always the best person to judge. However, by the time the dessert came I was already pretty full so I didn't mind to much that this was my least enjoyable course.
This was a lovely evening with delicious food and I am beyond excited to try it all again once the new place opens in the late summer. For £25 we tried four generous courses which is fantastic value and several months later I'm still thinking about those chicken wings and ramen.
Do you like ramen x