Hakata Ikkousha is a chain of Japanese ramen restaurants with a global footprint as far reaching as Melbourne in Australia to Hong Kong, from Torrance in California to…Sharjah, right here in the UAE. Billed as its first foray into the Middle East, the ‘Ikkousha Ramen Sharjah Shop’ boasts strict compliance with “Islamic food-related traditions”. And that’s because Hakata Ikkousha ramens are famous for their pork-based broth in Japan, hence the emphasis on chicken-based stock and alcohol-free sauces and condiments in this new Sharjah branch.
Ikkousha Sharjah basically offers two types of chicken-based ramen broth, paitan (cloudy) and chintan (clear). Each can be ordered regular or spicy. I ordered one of each – regular chintan and a spicy paitan. If you like Chinese chicken noodle soup you will love the chintan ramen. In addition to the delicious broth, the in-house made noodles were perfectly al dente and the nitamago egg (served whole) was exactly the right consistency.
Although the spicy paitan broth was thick and cloudy as it should be, I was not particularly impressed with the taste. Perhaps it was because it had an overpowering taste of chilli powder (rather than chili oil, paste or freshly chopped chili). That said, the staff told me that it was the most popular of their ramens. Personally, I prefer Kinoya’s paitan based ramen followed by Daikan’s far more. The gyoza I started with, however, was spot on (although my first dumpling unceremoniously fell apart as I tried to impress the staff with my chop sticks skills). The Karaage left much to be desired.
I found the all-Filipina staff friendly, knowledgeable, presentable and very accommodating. Towards the end of my meal, Japanese chef Tetsu-san, embedded from the headquarters in Japan, made an appearance. He showed me the noodle making machine they have on-site – pretty cool. My overall experience at Ikkousha Sharjah was good. It is without doubt the best ramen restaurant that I have been to in the UAE outside Dubai. Would I be prepared to drive from Dubai to dine there? Not while Tomo, Kinoya, Daikan, Yui, Wokyo and Bentoya are still around. I will 100% go back when I am next driving through Sharjah though.
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Xerxes (pronounced Zûrk’seez) physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join him on his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on email@example.com.