Tonkotsu, Soho, London
Tonkotsu is one of my preferred ramen joints in the city. There’s less of a crowd than say, Bone Daddies, and the location can sometimes be more convenient than the likes of Kanada-ya. I’ve frequented at both lunch and dinner times and I’ve been pleased with the result each time.
It’s a good spot to know for lunch, they do a special combo deal which includes a side. I was having a heavy day at work so slipping away to a noodle house was the perfect remedy. As it often is. They take their noodles seriously here at Tonkotsu and that shows. Ken and Emma, the owners, visited Japan in search for the ideal noodle machine. It then took six months for the equipment to arrive, but that was long enough for them to perfect their noodle recipe.
A challenge a layman like myself wouldn’t know, there’s an art to getting the right ramen flour and the right alkaline water. It takes an industrial filter and alkaline salts to get it right here in London Soho. But all we need to know is that it is a very good noodle, and it comes in a very good soup.
My order was for the classic Tonkotsu Ramen, made up with a 16-hour pork broth which has a sea salt and lardo base. It’s topped with bamboo shoots, spring onion, egg, roast pork belly and burnt garlic oil. The tables also have fresh ginger and mincers so you can pop that right into the bowl. I like this. I got the large size which I’d recommend, it may have been too small otherwise. And again, I was more than happy with this bowl – great flavours, satisfying and a nice little afternoon reprieve from dreary office life. It is a clear ramen base, not a cloudy one so keep that in mind if you are fussy.
Being a lunchtime there was a combo deal on offer where you could include a side for £12 total or something like that. I went for the chicken gyozas and these three are a great little side. The gyozas wasn’t quite as remarkable as the noodles, but the filling was good enough and I liked the single-sided grilling presentation.
The other visit I went the other direction and went for the cold ramen. The Hiyashi ramen salad (£9.50) can come with either a sesame ponzu or a sesame goma dressing. And four options here, duck, chicken, seafood and mushrooms. It’s quite a refreshing eat and good for a summer option. The pieces of pulled chicken are extremely flavourful and there’s enough veg here to feel like you’re eating a salad.
I’ve also sampled the karage chicken and these are excellent. This one didn’t come with a mayo but other than that, it fulfils my usual fried chicken-based fantasies. Tonkotsu’s a decent Japanese-styled restaurant and the noodles are killer.