Browsing Tag

Tonkotsu ramen

London, Restaurants

Kanada-Ya Ramen Bar, London

London’s ramen craze continues with the opening of Kanada-Ya this week on St Giles High Street.

Opened in Japan in 2009, Kanada Kazuhiro’s popular ramen restaurant also has a branch in Hong Kong.  The London restaurant is the brand’s third outpost and judging by the enormous queues during the soft launch, its reputation preceeds it.

We were treated to a special preview this week before the restaurant officially opened.  Kanada-Ya is a petite spot with bright, contemporary design and an open hatch.  There’s a mix of communal tables and counter seating by the windows with simple wooden stools (perhaps not the kind of seating to make you linger).

At present, there are three kind of ramen – Original Ramen (£10) with chashu pork belly, Moyashi Ramen (£11) with added blanched beansprouts and Chashu Men (£12.50) with deluxe chashu pork collar.

We both went for the Original Ramen, which arrived swiftly, served piping hot in a large bowl.  The 18 hour pork bone broth was so creamy, rich and meaty without being overpowering.  It’s the result of Kanada-Ya’s unique way of boiling the pork broth and its special secret sauce.

The tonkotsu broth covered a generous amount of excellent springy, thin noodles which were cooked medium-firm – yes, you have a choice between soft, medium and firm.

I’m never usually excited about the pork slices in ramen, but Kanada-Ya’s chashu pork belly is absolutely incredible.  The slow-cooked, tender pork belly simply melts in the mouth and has a sweet honey-roasted flavour that blends a little into the broth.  Three slices were sufficient, but I would definitely order extra pork next time, as it was just so delicious.

The dish was garnished with fresh wood ear fungus, finely chopped spring onions and a thin sheet of nori.  You might be wondering, where is the nitamago (soft boiled egg marinated in soy sauce) and beansprouts – well, they are to be ordered as extras to customise your ramen.  I prefer this approach, as I’m not a huge fan of nitamago and sometimes find there are too many ingredients in ramen dishes.

The only side dishes at the moment are different flavours of Onigiri (rice balls wrapped in nori).  I tried the original Onigiri (£2 for one piece) and had expected it to taste like sushi rice served chilled, but in fact it was a substantial wedge of warm, salted plain rice covered in nori.  It’s not a very flavoursome side on its own, so be sure to order one with a filling of either Umeboshi (pickled plum) or Sake Salmon.

We washed down the ramen with a bottle of Kimura Japanese Lemonade (£2.90), which tasted like a fizzy concoction dreamed up in a sweet shop.  The cool bottle cap is something I’ve never seen before, so our waiter kindly offered to crack them open for us.  Flavoured iced teas and pots of Japanese tea are also available.

Kanada-Ya is a fantastic new place to dine with friendly staff, a pleasant atmosphere and possibly the best ramen I’ve ever tasted.  The ramen dishes are very satisfying and filling without being overwhelming and they’re excellent value, starting from just £10.  I can’t wait to go back and slurp some more tasty ramen soon.

For more information, visit:

Photos by Chérie City (interior by Kanada-Ya)

Chérie City was a guest of Kanada-Ya

Kanada-Ya on Urbanspoon

London, Restaurants

Tonkotsu Noodles At Shoryu Ramen – London

The Japanese ramen trend has truly taken off in London (via New York) and we are now spoilt for choice, with a number of ramen joints popping up across town within just a few months.  One of the most talked-about places for authentic ramen is Shoryu Ramen, a stylish yet casual tonkotsu noodle bar just a few steps away from the Japan Centre on Regent Street.

Earlier in the summer, I visited the Japan Centre for tonkotsu ramen and the manager Nari, who also oversees Shoryu, told me that it was the next big food trend to hit London.  Boy, was he right about the ramen invasion and cleverly the Japan Centre was there to meet demand with Shoryu.

Judging by the frequent queues and high number of Japanese guests, Shoryu has already become a big hit.  Ramen varies between regions in Japan and Shoryu specialises in Hakata ramen, expertly made by Fukuokan-born Head Chef Kanji Furukawa.

The restaurant is petite and has a walk-in only policy so there’s a good chance you’ll have to queue at peak times.  Whenever a guest walks in, all of the staff shout ‘Irasshaimase!’ – an honored tradition of welcoming customers.  The design of the restaurant is contemporary, bright and unfussy and tables are squeezed quite closely together.

We began with Edamame with hakata yuzu and British sea salt (£3.50) to snack on.  The steamed edamame pods were infused with fragrant, citrusy yuzu and very fine salt, served cold.  The large beans were plump and full of flavour – edamame perfection!

The Matcha Orange Smoothie (£2.90) wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  On a positive note, it was filled with lots of detoxing matcha powder, but it was unfortunately very bitter, possibly made with concentrated orange juice instead of freshly squeezed and had the thin texture of a juice – not really a smoothie at all.  Steven fared better with a simple Diet Coke (£1.50), although notably they also serve Chegworth Valley Apple Juice, Gekkeikan sake and Asahi beer.

We’re both gyoza fiends and could easily wolf down dozens of those little parcels, but spotting the size of the ramen bowls leaving the kitchen, we shared just one portion of Gyoza Dumplings (£5 for 6).  They were quite possibly the best gyoza I’ve ever had – thin steamed skins lightly fried on each side and filled generously with beautifully-seasoned pan fried pork, vegetables and herbs.

The six gyoza dumplings were served piping hot and came with a delicious soy vinegar dipping sauce.  Gyoza dumplings must be one of Shoryu’s most popular starters, as almost every table ordered a plate of them, and rightly so.

I love miso-based soups, so I chose the Shoryu Tonkotsu (£8.50) – tonkotsu pork broth with miso, bbq pork, nitamago, kikurage, red ginger, nori, bean sprouts, spring onion, sesame.  The bowl was enormous and filled with meticulously placed fresh ingredients ready to be mixed into the mild, creamy and not overly oily tonkotsu broth.

The bbq pork is already cooked and sliced, so it lacks somewhat in tenderness, but it’s hearty, lean and goes well with the ramen.  My dish had around four medium slices, so there is a reasonable amount without the pork being the main feature.  The plentiful hosamem noodles at the bottom of the dish are thin,  springy and hold their own in the broth (thankfully not over-cooked).  The nitamago egg, boiled and marinated in a soy sauce mixture, was an authentic addition and added richness to the ramen.

Steven was slightly braver and went for the Piri Piri Tonkotsu (£9.90) spicy tonkotsu pork broth with miso, bbq pork, nitamago, kikurage, red ginger, nori, bean sprouts, spring onion, sesame.  This fiery bowl of ramen had a serious kick to it, with spicy seasoning in the broth and slices of super hot piri piri chili.  This is definitely one to order to blast away winter colds!

The ramen was so filling and warming, but there’s always room for dessert, especially if they are bright green!  We were told that the desserts are made by a very good local Japanese bakery and all contain matcha.  I went for the Matcha Sponge Cake (£4.50), which included layers of deliciously vanilla cream, a centre of sweet plum jam and a generous dusting of matcha powder.

Steven’s Matcha Cheese Cake (£4.50) had an intense matcha flavour and the biscuit base was crumbly and heavenly.  To finish the meal, we were advised to try Hoji Cha (£2) – a roasted green tea that is almost caffeine-free.  It had a subtle, nutty flavour and was very easy to drink.  The manager told us that they use the finest quality Hoji Cha and import it straight from Japan.  I later found this particular type of Hoji Cha in the Japan Centre and it really is the very best you can find.

Shoryu is the perfect place for hearty, authentic Hakata ramen and is very reasonably priced, considering the generous portion sizes and high quality of the food.  They tempted us with some dishes that were ‘coming soon’ on the menu, including my favourite Chicken Kara Age, so I will definitely be back as their menu expands.

Best of all, if you feel inspired to recreate the dishes at home, Japan Centre is just across the road.  We were sold on the health benefits of Hoji Cha and matcha, so we picked some up on the way home, as well as some adorable little chocolate mochi and a matcha brownie for the next day.  A delicious dinner with a bit of shopping afterwards – what could be better!

Chérie City was a guest of Shoryu

Photos by Chérie City and Shoryu

Shoryu on Urbanspoon