Drink & Dine

Ribon – Ramen best saved for desperate times


After a hard workout with the Urban Circuit folk, I was ready for some ramen. Katie B had pulled together a massive group to try out Ribon, one of the only ramen places highlighted by Zoom Japan we hadn’t tried out yet.

Ribon is a little confusing at first because the upstairs seems to be closed and the basement floor has now become the only restaurant. It’s segregated into a number of small rooms around a larger central one and apparently offers karaoke in all of them. We didn’t partake, having recently gone for an epic karaoke night up at Lucky Voice and it seemed a bit expensive at £50-100 per hour.

Anyways, let’s eat. We opted for the fried pork and kimchi, grilled black cod, kara-age, and gyoza for our starters. The kimchi lacked that tart, tangy, spicy flavour that I associate with this dish of pickled cabbage and the pork slices were massive which made for some tricky chopstick maneuvering. The black cod was delicious and perfectly cooked but was quite small for almost £10 (say 5-6 bites worth) and still had a large number of bones embedded in the flesh. The kara-age was juicy and tender and the gyoza delightfully pan fried (although the filling was very mushy). I should note that the sashimi is heavily over priced with inch long pieces of fish running £2-3 per item.

Miso ramen with char siu pork

Miso ramen with char siu pork

The ramen came out and we had selected miso as the base. Apparently they only do one stock each day but we got to choose ahead of time since we were pretty much most of the restaurant. The broth was rich and filling although there was definitely not enough! I was going to get the “giant” size until we found out all that meant was you got extra noodles. And I really didn’t want extra noodles particularly as these were a bit cold and mushy (sorry for the word repeat – but it’s the best suited!). The char siu was tough and chewy and lacked that succulent fat that makes it so great in ramen. We were offered chilli oil and ground chilli to add to the ramen which definitely improved the depth of flavour and of course the heat. But overall, it was a bit of a letdown. And where was the egg?!

Udon...in case you don't want ramen...

Udon…in case you don’t want ramen…

All in all, the company was excellent but the food was lacking. Given the level of ramen that London can now boast, Ribon needs to up its game if it wants to it wants to compete.

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