The Lowdown: Ichibuns

By Stefan Chomka contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Lowdown: Ichibuns

Related tags: Ping pong, Hamburger, Sushi

Everything you wanted to know about the Japanese-inspired burger/ramen restaurant coming soon to Chinatown, Soho.

It sounds like a complaint you’d go on Embarrassing Bodies for...
It does rather, but Ichibuns is not a medical complaint but rather a Japanese-inspired restaurant promising ‘luxury fast food and an unmissable restaurant experience’ when it opens soon in Chinatown London. It takes its name from the Japanese term ‘ichiban’ which translates as ‘number one’,

That’s better than a number two. Tell us more
The 90-cover, three-storey venue on Wardour Street will go big on late night dining and takeaway and will open daily from 11:30am until midnight, and until 2am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It’s also clearly appealing to young, trendy types with its ‘eclectic Tokyo rock-and-roll’ interior.

What’s the food going to be like?
Ichibuns is predominantly a burger restaurant, but unlike its London predecessors also does ramen, maki and other dishes. Its classic burgers are made with a blend of Australian wagyu and grass-fed British beef but there’s also panko meatball, chicken katsu and fried fish finger burgers on offer.

Sounds interesting
So much so that many people thought serial restaurant entrepreneur Alan Yau had a hand in it (you wouldn’t put it past him) after he put a picture of the menu up on Instagram back in June. It turns out, however, that he is just an admirer from afar.

So who is involved?
It is the brainchild of Robin Leigh, formerly of Nobu. The new venture is also believed to be backed by Ping Pong founder Kurt Zdesar and includes Endo Kazutoshi, head sushi chef at Zuma.

When does it open?
Good question. The restaurant was originally set to launch on 21 July but this date has been and gone without a panko chicken tender or sakura blossom ichi shake having been produced. The best bet is August or September.

Still, it appears to have rollout potential
Paul Sarlas, the former chief executive of Ping Pong, tasked finance and operations recruitment company FDU with finding a group financial controller for Ichibuns, with the suitable candidate required to meet the business’s needs ‘from start-up mode moving into a period of fast growth’, so you could say so.

So watch this space then?
Yes, but it’s also worth keeping an eye on the former Grillshack site, also in Soho, with the Ichibuns team believed to be opening a different concept under the working title Kazu - which is a better name, if nothing else.

Related topics: Trends & Reports, Dining trends

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