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United Ramen, Upper Street

Where
United Ramen, Upper Street

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What

United Ramen dishes are created using traditions inspired by Japan and infused with different cultural flavours. After spending three years in Asia Pacific, American-Brit owner Aaron found the lack of great noodle shops in London frustrating and created United Ramen as an ode to the great Ramen he found in Japan.

The experience
United Ramen is the new kid on the Ramen block. Situated on trendy Upper Street in Islington, the brightly coloured restaurant made me feel like I had walked into the ramen version of Yo! Sushi.

The menu is split into sections – UR Ramen, deep rich broths; Hiyashi Ramen, cold ramen noodle salads; a range of sides and specials. As you would imagine there is also a range of sake on offer, along with some fun bubble teas.

Owner Aaron didn’t want to imitate authentic Japanese ramen, instead he makes nods to the delicious noodle bowls and adds his own flair. Diners can choose from two different kinds of noodles – thin and straight, which cling together to capture more broth as you slurp; and thick and wavy, which have more bounce and trap more topping.

Ali ordered the healthy Zesty Teriyaki Butternut Hiyashi Ramen and I opted for a slightly less healthy, but healthy nonetheless Chashu Pork Miso Ramen, along with a side of Pork Gyoza and Salted Edamame. The broth that is used for the ramen at United Ramen is all made on site dialy and contains no artificial additives or MSG. I could really taste the freshness of the broth and I thoroughly enjoyed the springy and chewy noodles.

I tried Bubble Tea for the first time and although I enjoyed the taste, wasn’t able to polish it off as the thick tapioca balls were starting to fill me up! Nevertheless, I gave it a good go. We finished off with three mochi for dessert – two chocolate and one raspberry. I know I love chocolate mochi but the raspberry was a nice surprise with sorbet in the middle.

Overall we enjoyed our United Ramen experience. Good fresh food at low prices, what’s not to like?

Cost
UR Ramen from £9, Hiyashi Ramen from £7, sides from £3. Bubble Tea from £2.50.

Address
105-106 Upper Street
London
N1 1QN

0207 1833 433

United Ramen on Urbanspoon

The Happenstance, St Paul’s

Where
The Happenstance, St Paul’s

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What

The Happenstance, situated by one of London’s most iconic landmarks, St Paul’s, is a magical Alice in Wonderland style bar & restaurant. Customers can expect innovative cocktails and seasonal & locally soured cuisine, from breakfast, brunch & lunch right through to dinner & late night bites.

The experience
There’s nothing quite like a catch up with one of your amazing friends and what makes it even better is good meal to go with it. I met my good friend Abi (also one of my new Food for Think contributors!) for dinner on Monday evening at The Happenstance. As it was a Monday, neither of us were drinking, so instead we guzzled a lovely mocktail, which was a sweet and delectable mix of passion fruit, mango and vanilla.

The menu at The Happenstance was slightly confusing. It is split into sections – a few small plates, a big range of flatbreads, salads, steak, mains, burgers & sandwiches and sides. We opted for a couple of small plates to start – Abi had the Great British Bloody Mary mussels and I went for the Tempura crispy squid with ginger & firecracker sauce. We chose meat for main – I ordered the rib-eye with a side of fries and Abi had the Suffolk farm lamb shank with sweet potato mash, rosemary jus & harissa.

The starters were great – Abi’s stole the show with the most delicious tomato sauce, but I was slightly disappointed when my steak arrived. Having asked for it to be cooked medium rare, it arrived more on the well done side. Abi’s lamb shank was much better – meat fell off the bone and the harissa and jus was the perfect accompaniment.

For dessert I ordered a crumble, which I struggled to eat as the portion was so large, but Abi once again chose well with the ‘Wagon Wheel’, a small but perfectly formed dessert of toasted meringue, raspberry sorbet and shortbread.

We were in The Happenstance for a good four hours and it was the perfect setting for a long overdue catch up – the restaurant interior had little nods to Alice in Wonderland, which made it fun and exciting. Next time, we’ll definitely be taking advantage of the experimental cocktails on offer.

Cost
Small plates from 5.95, mains from £8.85 and desserts from £4.95. A range of cocktails also available, from £6.96.

Address
No 1a Ludgate Hill
London
EC4M 7AA

Happenstance on Urbanspoon