This one I heard about in a shop. “Favorite Ramen?” “Oh I know this great one started by a group of Chefs from a French restaurant, Ichizu.” So I figured this needed investigating. In a way I can understand the desire to leave a French Restaurant to start a Ramen ya. A popular Ramen shop will be more profitable than a French Restaurant in Japan. It is really just to do with the frequency at which Japanese people eat ramen. I recently met a guy who eats it every day. It is no wonder then that you see shops with queues in front of them.
Ichizu promised to be something new, outside of the standard four of Shoyuu, Shio, Miso, and Tonkotsu. The shop itself is a fairly standard decor, counter seating and a kitchen behind, which was bigger than expected and better equipped than a standard Ramen ya. There is a Japanese style Koshitsu or private room in the corner too. You can apparently reserve this and order a French course.
The menu is longer than a standard Ramen ya and their ramens have a few different angles; a standard shio with a twist in the broth ingredients, a curry ramen, and about three others. I went with the Eri, which was described as a ramen that you would not expect in a ramen shop and was one of their first recipes. It said there is a limited number per day. Though I suspect not so limited, as I was there at 9.30 at night and they still had it. Besides the ramens, they have a few interesting sides such as white shoyuu poached eggs and confit of chicken. I ordered the confit, as I happen to just love anything confit.
The wait was standard. The two chefs much better dressed than standard ramen chefs, were busy toiling away in the kitchen. Out came my menu and I have to say it was nicely presented, an iron skillet with the confit chicken in it and a Japanese pottery ramen bowl of above standard quality. A nice touch, to give you a small serving of edible Ra-yuu and the advice to add it later when you want a change of flavour.
I plunged into the ramen. It was as described not what you expect. In a nice way. It was a little like a cream stew broth with the ramen in. Much thicker and richer in flavour than usual ramen broth. The richness has the edge taken off with some raw red onions finely sliced on top as a garnish. I would just advise it is hot, so mind not to burn yourself on your first bite. The thicker broth seems to keep its heat much better than standard broth, when slurped.
I went on to the chicken confit and this did not disappoint. At 400 Yen I would say this is a bargain. Confiting food is time consuming and expensive and they had done a good job. It was tender and well flavoured with something that made me think of China, but very subtle. The skin was crisp and for me well above what you would expect in a Ramen ya.
I went back to the ramen and added in the Ra-yuu and as suggested the French stew flavour took a turn towards chinese flavours, a pleasing outcome from such a simple action. They offer a service portion of rice. They ought to take a little more care when doing the rice. I felt they had made it too soft. It was still worth having though, as dipped in the remains of the soup it was quite a nice soul food type of flavour. I think perhaps even to do it earlier before the addition of the Ra-yuu might have been best of all.
All in all well worth a visit and at 1300 yen, which is not soo much more expensive than usual ramen a bit of a bargain.