Here is my second report on ramen in the Twin Cities. The first was of UniDeli, the quick service counter in the middle of the excellent United Noodles store in Minneapolis. Today I move across town to the St. Paul location of Ichiddo Ramen on University Avenue. They currently have thrree Twin Cities locations—the others are in Minneapolis—with more set to open in Roseville, Eden Prairie and Maple Grove. (Interestingly, they also have an outlet in Las Vegas.) I’m not sure which of the Twin Cities locations is the original but they all seem to have the same menu. They were recommended to me by a friend in response to my appeal, at the end of my UniDeli write-up, for more Twin Cities ramen recommendations. Accordingly, when I had to be in the vicinity last week for a spot of bidness we made plans to meet up there. Both our partners needed little arm-twisting to accompany us and between us we sampled enough for me to be able to say that I have a decent sense of their quality. That quality, I thought, is better than at UniDeli.
The St. Paul location is part of the real estate on University Avenue that also includes iPho by Saigon (which I really need to review at some point), and it’s only a couple of blocks east of Homi and about a block and a half west of Big Daddy’s . There’s a large parking lot alongside but as it’s shared with a number of other businesses, parking is not necessarily easy—we had to circle a few times to score a spot.
The restaurant does not look like much on the outside but is attractive enough on the inside. It’s a cosy spot that can probably seat 24-30 diners max—mostly at tables plus a few seats at the bar. They were doing decent weekday lunch business while we were there. We were at a four-top. While we waited for our friends to arrive we got an order of gyoza (6 pcs) and a pork bun (one per order). Both were quite good though part of the bun in the pork bun had not survived the steaming process unscathed and no one in the kitchen had apparently noticed this (see the picture below). One of our friends also ordered a pork bun when they arrived and his was as it should be. They also ordered the age tofu which was also tasty enough.
So, on to the ramen. They have a number of options, all of them in the same pork broth (see the slideshow for a description of this broth). One of our friends got the kimchi ramen, the other got the char siu ramen; the missus was seduced by the picture of the shredded char siu ramen; I got the niku soba ramen. The broth was tasty—not as salty as at UniDeli and also not quite as over the top with flavourings: we could actually taste the pork broth. And the noodles were nice and springy and far superior to that at UniDeli. The one down note was the kimchi in the kimchi ramen. Two of the four of us were not impressed by it. I only tasted the broth, which seemed fine; the missus, however, tasted the kimchi and thought it was of poor quality (perhaps not made well); one of our friends agreed with her though not quite as vehemently (she’s serious about her kimchi).
For pictures of the restaurant, the menu and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for thoughts on service, price and the overall quality.
As you may have been able to tell from the pictures, the portion size on the ramen was reasonable. Not as large as at UniDeli but we actually appreciated not leaving feeling completely bloated. The service was friendly and attentive. All of the above came to about $17/head with tax and tip, which is not bad at all. The kimchi issue aside, we liked the meal and would come back again if craving ramen in the vicinity—though given the Thai, Ethiopian, Vietnamese and Mexican temptations on University Ave. I’m not sure when we’ll actually satisfy that craving. (I’m still open for other ramen recommendations in the region, by the way.)
Coming up next from the Twin Cities, Mexican food in the South Metro. (Alas, we had to cancel our reservations at Tenant this past weekend on account of the snowcalypse—no idea when we’ll be able to score reservations there again.)