I have been on a mission to find the best Japanese ramen in London!
When I first heard of this ramen dish, I instantly thought of the ramen that I used to divulge quite a lot as a student. You know, the kind that comes in a little plastic wrapping with a cartoon looking Japanese kid holding a pot of noodles on the front cover. My other favourite was the Nissin instant ramen brand (very common over here in the UK), I tend to always grab the shrimp flavour one especially!
The History of Japanese Ramen
What started off as poor man’s food during the aftermath of the Second World War, and fuelled by the cheap flours imported from the US, ramen had become the main staple of hardworking Japanese workers all around the country.
Now with the growing popularity of this dish across the world and now over in London, I thought it would be worthwhile to mention the best Japanese ramen to try given the competitive London restaurant scene. Can you believe there are over at least 20 ramen restaurant bars in London dishing out pork broth goodness to the masses?!
63 Dean St, Soho, London
I discovered Tonkotsu during a rainy cold winter day in Soho seeking refuge as I frankly ran around looking for restaurant spots on a popular Saturday evening with SA. We were both starving and started sniffing the wonderful broth aroma seeping out of the half open door of Tonkotsu.
Inside, the diligent Japanese cook wrapped a black headscarf around his forehead, and he is surrounded by slowly pots boiling away, while steaming up the window looking out into the street. As I was told by the proud restaurant hostess, their famous Japanese ramen broth is made by simmering pork bones slowly for two days, the marrow from the pork bones brings out the deep creamy flavour that will make you salivate for days after.
Inside the traditional Tonkotsu I ordered (what else right? Of course always go for the best of the house!), the chef put ribbon like ramen that still retained the “bite” or “al dente” in Italian terms equivalent of ramen, slices of slowly braised belly pork, a boiled soy sauce marinated egg with a runny orange yolk, shallots, and bamboo shoots. All of this are submerged inside the rich and creamy pork broth, which made slurping so much fun and encouraged. (At this point, I had lost all lady-like manners and checked those in at the door).
For those more adventurous, you are welcome to add more garlic shots into the noodle by diligently peeling the garlic then using all of your left over wrist strength to work on that garlic press into your broth. Highly recommended yep!
A Japanese ramen meal is not complete without some lovely chicken karage (Japanese styled fried chicken with batter to die for). We were served a healthy serving of 2 pieces of large chicken karage and it was extremely crispy, flavoursome, tender on the side, and satisfying.
What to order: Tonkotsu Ramen
2. Bone Daddies
31 Peter St, Soho, London
The brain child of Ross Shonhan (who was ex-Head Chef at Zuma and Nobu Dallas), alongside Flesh and Buns (my previous review), Bone Daddies is the place to go if you want spot celebrities while having some delicious ramen. In the better days of the past, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were spotted there together, although they escaped the brisk order of queuing up in the winding long line of people outside of the restaurant.
Bone Daddies gives off a funky and younger vibe and a lot more hipsters were present. I wanted to really compare the food, rather than the interior decor. The noodles were top notch, as expected to be delivered at the quality worth of ex-Nobu credentials. The broth however, were better at Tonkotsu as the Bone Daddies version had a much lighter and cleaner taste. Perhaps this was catered to the western palate? But if you like your ramen noodles served with side of trendy hipster tunes, then this is your kind of place.
Pro tip: make sure to order the crispy battered soft-shell crab served with green chilli ginger sauce
What to order: Spicy Miso Ramen with Padron Peppers
Price: From £10
3. Shoryu Ramen
Locations all over London
Shoryu Ramen has quickly become one of my ultimate favourites. Shoryu Ramen specialises in Hakata tonkotsu ramen from the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. The Kotteri Hakata Tonkotsu is the most porky broth I have ever tasted with a thick, white, flavourful soup paired with thin al-dente noodles. They also throw in all the ingredients that are fundamental to a classic ramen dish, without the extra pricing. Judging by the number of Japanese natives eating here, this must be a great sign!
What to order: £11.50
Price: Kotteri Hakata Tonkotsu
Kanada-Ya is the most authentic tonkotsu ramen place in London. They create their pork broth by simmering the pork bones for 18 hours to create a rich and tasty consistency. With only 30 seats inside, you’ll have to wait awhile, but the wait is more than worth it. As a truffle lover myself, I always go for the porcini truffle ramen. You won’t regret it.
What to order: Truffle Ramen
Price: From £10.50
So there you go, my friends, go forth and pursue the taste in the art of ramen. Please leave a comment below if you have come across your favourite places! 🙂