Tonkotsu Ramen Soho London

Tonkotsu Ramen Soho – eating my way through London’s latest food craze

Ramen is warming comfort food, perfect for chilly weather and brought to the UK from Japan where there are over 3000 Ramen bars!  After the Second World War, the popularity of Chinese noodle dishes in Japan increased and according to Wikipedia, from the 1980s, Ramen became a ‘Japanese cultural icon’ and a Ramen museum was opened in Yokahama in 1994.  There’s even a cult film, Tampopo.

Now my first taste of Ramen was at Bone Daddies in Soho.  And, although (or perhaps because) I loved my lunch there, I wanted to check out the competition.  So on one of the coldest days of the year so far, I trekked across Central London from Holborn to Soho, to make my way to Tonkotsu Ramen.

tonkotsu ramen soho london

I very carefully ordered a bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen, their signature dish, and some tea in some attempt to be healthy.  The waitress disappeared and returned a few minutes later to  very apologetically tell me that the tea machine hadn’t warmed up so I ended up happily drinking Sake!

The Ramen was a slightly different style to that on offer at Bone Daddies, a little lighter and with finer noodles.  I did actually manage a full bowlful, and even ate the egg (regular readers may remember my antipathy to anything based on egg)  and actually found it rather good.  The menu at Tonkotsu Ramen seemed to have fewer options than Bone Daddies and given a choice I’d still pick a chicken based Ramen rather than one with pork, no matter how slow cooked, simply because I don’t particularly like fat on meat but there isn’t one on offer.  I wasn’t disappointed though,  the pork was good, tender and soft and easy enough to cut with my spoon.

Despite the lack of chicken, Tonkotsu, unlike Bone Daddies, does have a vegetarian option, based on Miso stock and if you are interested in that, my friend and erstwhile dining companion The Hedonist  enjoyed and reviewed the dish a week or so ago.

 

tonkotsu ramen soho tonkotsu

The Tonkotsu Ramen arrived in minutes and was as delicious as it looks!

I was eating lunch by myself and got chatting to my neighbour at the bar because he ALSO tried to order tea and ended up with Sake.  He also ordered the Gyozo and Tokyo ramen and he kindly let me take photos.  Such is the insolence of the food writer, we not only take photos in restaurants, we ask strangers to take pictures of THEIR food too!

Actually he really didn’t seem to mind…I think because the Gyozo really did look wonderful and apparently tasted great too!  Or maybe that was just the effect of the Sake?

tonkotsu ramen soho gyoza

The Toyko Ramen, was darker, soy rich…and pronounced excellent by my new friend, who was also on his first visit to Tonkotsu.

tonkotsu ramen soho - soya ramen

So there you are. Writing restaurant reviews really does turn you into a slightly eccentric, wayward person who chats up strangers in bars and demands to take photos of their food.

Or maybe I was that way inclined anyway?

I couldn’t tell you which of the two Ramen joints is ‘better’ or which is more authentic.  Bone Daddies serves a richer, more filling Ramen and has a slightly glitzier set of starters. Tonkotsu is more open, the Ramen chef cooks at the front of the restaurant. Both are a delicious form of fast food that will set you back around £10 for a bowl of noodles (a meal in itself).  Neither take reservations. And neither were so busy we had to queue at lunchtime during the week, though I understand things are very different on a Friday evening.

The best I can suggest is to try them both and decide for yourself.

Tonkotsu Ramen
63 Dean Street
Soho
w1G 4QD

Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon

4 / 5 stars     
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Comments

  1. Currently sat at home with a stinking cold and craving Ramen. You taunt me!!

  2. Hey Fiona! Which ramen place in London would you recommend for a first ramen experience?
    Thanks

    • I’ve only tried two myself! Bone-daddies was great – rich and filling and I liked the chicken option. Tonkotsu also great – not quite such a heavy stock, finer noodles but no chicken option (though you could have the veggie one if you don’t want pork!)

  3. Another great place for food. Great discovery. Thanks for the tip. We hope to get to London this year, so we’ll check it out.

  4. You have the most interesting food.. and it makes what I have look boring.. even if I can approximate it

  5. Hey Fiona,

    Living on Guam there’s a huge Japanese influence. Ramen, Miso Soup, and Gyozo are like comfort food to me – Love it :) The food looks awesome!

  6. Wow, these places look like they give Ramen a whole new meaning. Your experience seems way different than opening up a package, adding water and microwaving. :) I’d probably enjoy one of these places.

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