Ramen is one of London food trends for 2013 (much like burgers in 2012), so it’s time I write about it on my blog. It all started with the opening, last summer, of Tonkotsu, the first ramen specialist restaurant in London. It was followed, a few months later, by Shoryu Ramen at the Japan Centre in Regents Street. Another restaurant, Ittenbari, which serves a wider range of Japanese dishes, has also set the bar for ramen in the capital, receiving positive reviews from London’s food blogging community.
The latest to arrive on the scene is Bone Daddies, an un-traditional ramen bar in Soho, headed by Australian-born chef Ross Shonhan, former head chef at Zuma and Nobu.
I arrived at Bone Daddies on a late Sunday afternoon, just in time to find a seat without having to queue (the restaurant quickly filled up, with queues outside the doors by the time we left).
Ramen can be prepared with different types of noodles (straight or wavy, thin or thick, round or flat) and every ramen chef would cultivate his/her own stock recipe, so comparing ramen restaurants is not an easy task. It really is down to your personal preferences and taste.
I have spoken to many food bloggers about it and there isn’t a general agreement: some prefer Shoryu, some Bone Daddies, some Tonkotsu, and so on. As for myself, I am not even sure I love ramen…but let me tell you more about my experience!
We started our dinner with a portion of Soft Shell Crab, after it was recommended by a few Twitter friends. Given that I am quite squeamish with food, especially shellfish, the crab was not a smart choice.
There is something about the looks and the texture of soft shell crab that simply puts me off eating it…I did try it and it did taste good, especially dipped in the green chilli ginger sauce, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat more than a small bite.
The ramen was definitely a more successful choice. My husband ordered the Sweet 3 Miso Ramen, which was made with a chicken bone broth, and came with toppings of eggs, sprouts, corn, wakame and chicken.
I ordered the Tonkotsu Ramen with spring onion and chashu pork.
At Bone Daddies, there is a vast choise of toppings to add to your ramen: from bean sprouts to cock scratchings, from noodles to spicy ground chicken. I ordered an extra portion of 20-hour pork bone broth. It was a good tip, as the tonkotsu comes with too many toppings and not enough broth.
I tried ramen in Japan a few years ago, at Santouka in Kyoto, and I remember it as a tasty but light broth.
The tonkotsu ramen I tried here in London, at both Tonkotsu and Bone Daddies, is very different. The pork broth is rich, dense from the fats and collagen, the flavour is intense, and the bowls here are much bigger. At Santouka, ramen was served in a small bowl that could be lifted with one hand, but here in London the ramen is a big, filling and heavy dish.
After my meal at Bone Daddies I felt heavy and full. It was my only meal of the day and I couldn’t even empty the bowl.
I have mixed feelings about it: while I liked the place and I agree that the food is good, the tonkotsu ramen is simply not for me, for it was too heavy and fat. As my friend Serena of Into the F Word put it to me afterwards, it’s basically like eating “liquid pork”…But if you don’t mind it, ramen does taste good, it is relatively cheap and definitely hip!
If you want to be on trend, Bone Daddies is the place to go to!