Friday, October 19, 2012

Tonkotsu review

Tonkotsu is a new'ish ramen noodle house, founded by the same people who brought us Tsuru Sushi & Katsu. Not quite unlike the more specialty udon-based Koya nearby, Tonkotsu is aimed at people keen to expand their Japanese noodles palette beyond the usual Wagamama chain of bland pan-Asian restaurants without straying too far from the comfort of home.

The pork-based Tonkotsu is served in thin noodles and delicious pork belly. The thin noodles aren't particularly fantastic, though I do love the broth and pork belly (who doesn't?). The Tokyo Spicy ramen on the other hand is a mixture of pork and chicken stock and comes with medium thick noodles (my preference when it comes to ramen), topped with pulled chili pork. Pulled pork, in my opinion, is one of the most overrated dishes to trend this side of the century, but they do taste well here.
If Tonkotsu allows you to mix and match, I would go for the Tonkotsu broth with satisfying springy medium thick noodles topped with melting fattening pork belly. Now that would be a bowl of ramen worth returning for. Pro tip to Tonkotsu: lose the bean sprouts. Perhaps in some ways perhaps the lack of choice is a probably good thing. In fact there are only three ramens on the menu, and those were the two I've gone for (the other is strictly for vegetarians).

Between £9 and £11, these ramens aren't cheap, but they are passable (remember, this is London we are talking about - not Tokyo). Starters are available in the form of gyoza, hand made dumplings that are lightly fried, as well as edamame and chicken karaage. The drinks menu are also sparse, with a couple of craft beers and wines to be found. The Hackney brewed 8-ball IPA in particular goes well with the Tonkotsu ramen. Brewdog's infamous Tokyo* once graced the menu, but has since been scraped. For a Soho joint, the prices of drinks aren't too bad.

Sure, Tonkotsu may not be wildly authentic (I don't know actually, but it's not like you and I have tried every single ramen restaurant between here and Japan), but if there's anything that may seal its fate as one of the better casual ramen restaurants in London are the number of Japanese who regularly fill the restaurant. Nothing says more than the many Japanese expats slurping their ramen giving their seal of approval.


63 Dean Street
Tube: Leicester Square

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