Sunday, 1 July 2012

Tonkotsu - Japanese ramen noodles

After 5 + City Pig’s Summary



£18 average price of one bowl of noodle, sharing portion of side dish, tea and service charge.
Yes. (Ramen noodle soup is comforting and healthier than fried noodles.)
63 Dean Street, W1D 4QG
Opening times
Mon-Sun 12pm-10:30pm
Eat in/Takeaway:
Recommended dishes & drinks
Tonkotsu ramen noodles and the gyoza dumplings. A very limited menu.
Vegetarian dishes
Yes - Limited
Loyalty card

After 5 + City Pig’s analysis

Tonkotsu is the latest Japanese restaurant specialising in ramen noodles. Actually a welcoming newcomer into the London restaurant scene and much needed as I cannot think of many good Japanese ramen noodle restaurants.
The menu is rather limited in choice of ramens available but the focus is the “tonkotsu” ramen soup noodles. This is basically pork bones being boiled for several hours to produce a flavoursome pork stock.
So does this live up to expectations? It’s not bad and is probably one of the better ramen restaurants in London but at the same time it wasn’t that exciting. The stock is pure and the ramen noodles quite thin and has some firmness to it as the noodles are handmade.
The menu is very limited, customers can only choose between 3 types of soup noodles and the rest are side dishes being gyozas and fried chicken.
The stock is definitely MSG free and all very natural taste is left each bite and slurp. However, the pork in the noodles were quite plain in taste and there wasn’t that much spring onions thrown in.
I understand currently in the London restaurant scene, having limited and specific dishes are what is hot right now but surely, there could have been more soup stock choices for a ramen noodle bar.
The gyozas are made very well, thin flour casing and lightly grilled. Having selected the pork and prawn gyoza, it was quite plain in taste at first but with a dab of the chilli oil condiment on the table it was delicious. It is much healthier than a lot of other places.
At £11 a noodle soup and £5 for gyozas that have 5 pieces a portion are premium prices for what it is. It is a quick eat and the d├ęcor of this small noodle joint is small which is no surprise as traditionally in Tokyo it could be smaller.
I was surprised that the only tea served was green tea (sencha) and there were no other options. In fact, a lot of Korean, Japanese and Chinese restaurants have a poor tea menu that only has one or two options. I often enjoy drinking ho-ji cha , a more darker brew with a smoky taste which a lot of Japane restaurants do not serve despite these are readily available even in Sainsbury’s!
I like the concept of bringing tonkotsu ramen noodles to London but could it be done better in terms of taste - yes. It still lacks the creamy and intense pork bone taste that I am used to from the Far East. However, I am not convinced that such limited choice is the way forward and more different ramen soup bases would have been more exciting.

Summary of Citypig’s meal with pal:

o   Prawn Gyoza                          £5
o   Tonkotsu noodle X2             £22
o   Sencha Green Tea x2          £4.60
o   Service charge at 10%         £3.16
    Total                                       £34.76

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