Ichiban Noodle Bar, Glasgow
Ichiban means number one in Japanese. And Ichiban Noodle Bar might just be number one for Japanese food in Glasgow! It was one of our dinner stops for a wild night in the city (in terms of stuffing our faces). Originally established in 1998 the restaurant opened a second branch in 2002 and they offer a wide range of all your Japanese favourites.
Immediately upon walking in to Ichiban there’s a sense of deja vu with the long, shared tables being wholly reminiscent of Wagamama. And the end result also feels largely the same. Traditional Japanese cuisine with modern twists and a touch too much watering down to more Western palates. The presence of gimmicks like the flower tea confirm as such, though I’m not one to judge – I ordered one myself!
The vision of the evening was to do a progressive mealtime with little plates at a few different Glasgow haunts. That fantasy eroded quickly as we found ourselves preferring to hibernate in just a couple choice spots. A good Jap meal often starts with something fried for me, either tempura or chicken, and it was the former that won this day. For a reasonable £5.50 you get a nice variety in the tempura, with three prawns and an accurate accompaniment of tentsuyu.
The menu at Ichiban Noodle Bar is more extensive then that of Waga’s. There’s sushi, bento and much more options in every section of the menu. And we thought the execution of the dishes was fair. We all dived into the soup noodles for our main. Glasgow had a bit of a wintery edge this evening, so warming our tummies through copious consumption sounded like a sensible course of action to take.
The guys went for the Seafood ramen (£9.00) which includes prawn, squid, scallop, naruto and crabstick. If you’re like me, and have your fingers itching to Google that – narutomaki is a type of kamaboko (cured fish surimi). In other terms, that pink-white swirly thing.
Mine was the pork katsu soba for £8.60. It’s interesting because at Ichiban Noodle Bar you can choose between ramen, udon and soba for all the noodle dishes. I’ve not seen this option elsewhere. I think it’s novel, but some of the noodles might be better suited to some broths more than others. Also, those noodles are difficult to perfect so most places only ever really offer one. Here the soba was a lovely blend, no complaints, the broth was quite light. You get a decent amount of the pork katsu but naturally you lose a bit of that crunch when drenched.
And we couldn’t forget that flowering tea. It’s all fun and games. The blob of dried tea ‘transforms’ into a flower once immersed in hot water. The taste is a moot point, it’s always for the theatre. Not sure it’s quite my thing, it wasn’t as pretty as I was hoping it to be (based on the example images). Also, hot tea in a wine glass is a terribly, terribly awkward thing to drink.
Overall, yeah, we enjoyed our time with Ichiban Noodle Bar in Glasgow. We only sampled a small corner of the menu but these were more than satisfactory. Flavours weren’t as strong as we would have liked, seemed literally watered down. But warm stomachs made us wholly content for the night.