My goal in reviewing places/things/books/movies is to say nice things. Lots of mediocre/crappy stuff passes by me every day and you never hear about it. But Ichiddo Ramen was fantastic, and that garners a review on this blog. Ichiddo St Paul is located at 712 University Ave W, Suite 103, St Paul, MN 55104. Open 7 days a week, from 10 am – 10 pm (Mon-Sat), and 10 am – 9 pm (Sun).
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I walk almost everywhere I go these days. Part of the “I’d like to see 60” program I’m on. One of my favorite routes includes a stroll down University Avenue in Saint Paul. University was on the comeback about 10 years ago, then it plunged into darkness when the nanny staters pushed light rail into our lives. Now, after a few years of the trains mashing cars and killing pedestrians on a regular basis, the business community is blossoming again. University has more new places than it has for a decade, and while some of them are – well, not up for a review – there are a bunch that look interesting. As the months go by, I’m going to try and hit more of them.
Ichiddo Ramen almost missed out on my scrutiny, as I usually walk on the other side of the street – That’s where the delightful Trung Nam Bakery is located. But on the day I discovered them, I was headed to a bakery called Sugarush. No need for a long review there: great donuts. Thankfully, they are just a few doors down from Ichiddo.
I peered in through the window and was impressed with the interior. Clean. Neat. Beautiful. The kind of eatery you’d find in an upscale suburb, not University Avenue in Saint Paul. My wife loves this kind of stuff, so I decided that it would be a “Secret Date Night” destination for Friday night.
I know nothing about Ramen except that it kept me alive when the chow-hall stunk in Monterey. That’s not true. I also know that I love the spicy ones, and have two cases of them in the basement because they never go bad. They also are the bomb for soaking a peanut-butter sandwich on cold winter days when I’m really hungry. Little did I suspect that there is actual cuisine involving those noodles until that evening.
As noted above, the interior is beautiful. We were greeted immediately, and within 10 minutes we had the menus, a drink, and an order in for appetizers. The staff was good – very good. I was delighted by the level of attention they gave to all the guests. Nobody wound up in the dreaded “I thought that was your table” zone from what I observed.
The appetizers were really well done. Sauces, chilis, and presentation were spot-on. Flavors top-notch. We had the clamari, tokoyaki, and chicken wings. Delicate heat on the chili sauce with a sweet base. The wings were way better than any I’ve had in the last 12 months. Tokoyaki? One of those things that is best not done in bulk, because a large platter of them would be consumed in complete disregard for the caloric devastation they would cause.
For the main course, I went deep-end. I had the pork belly ramen (Niku Soba Ramen). I’ve eaten my share of pork belly over the years, including hand-done specimens from a master meat fanatic I know. This topped them all. I added extra noodles, tofu, and eggs to the mix. The eggs were a surprise. They’re marinated/pickled. Not a bad flavor, but not what I was expecting. I’m spoiled, as a midwesterner, with an abundance of fresh eggs. Runny Yolks would be my pseudonym if …. never mind. I loved it. A lot. As in, “I may never eat anything else” kind of worship.
My wife had something else. Danged if I know what it was, but she really liked it as well. (Beef Donburi) (Hey, nobody is paying me to do this, you get this half-witted stuff for the price of admission.) She is a bit more picky than your beloved two-legged garbage disposal, and her praise means something. She loved hers as well.
Total cost for this meal was about $63.00 with tip.
I will definitely go back. They have made that easy, as there is a parking lot just to the west of the building – a rarity on University Avenue.
It made for a great secret date. Thanks, Ichiddo Ramen, for a great experience.
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