Noodles Noodles Everywhere (Part II: Ramen)

In the first episode of Noodles Noodles Everywhere, we introduced some of the best Laksa restaurants in London.  In this issue, we discuss its Japanese counterpart, Ramen.  While Ramen is not a new craze, and a number of places have existed in London for years, there has been a recent emergence of a variety new hip joints in soho and the theater district that deserve a bit of praise.  In the past, Ramen has not been my favorite.  I've never been able to get past the somewhat boring wheat noodles that always taste like the cup of noodles you had at lunch in middle school rather than the fresh noodles you may get in la-mian or in other Japanese soups such as udon.  That being said, and never going to a very good ramen restaurant, I was wrong.  There are three recent additions to the London ramen scene and we're going to be talking about two of those that we recently visited, Bone Daddies, and Shoryu.

Mmmm... Fatty goodness.
Bone Daddies is located off of Wardour street in Soho and has been written about by just about every food blogger and newspaper under the sun.  Suffice it to say, the Ramen here is good.  Not being a Ramen aficionado, I don't know if I can judge it that thoroughly, but I would say it is a bit too heavy for my liking.  I had the Tantanmen Ramen, filled pork, sesame, chili  bok choy, in a chicken bone broth.  Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but after a finishing I felt extremely full and exhausted.  The broth is rich and full of flavor and if its not  dense enough for you, there are a variety of extras you can add in to your mix including pipettes of pork fat (we didn't get this).  What I did appreciate was the noodles.  All of my ramen experiences in the past involved fairly bland and chewy noodles that weren't anything special.  While these still had the same type of flavor they tasted much fresher.  I know ramen noodles are traditionally all pre-made so it may be the better care the restaurant took that provided a better noodle, but regardless it was a step up form my past experiences.  Overall I would rate Bone Daddies a 7/10.  The food was great, but I'll be honest, when I go to get any type of Asian food, I prefer an authentic experience rather than a place ran and filled with hipsters blasting indie rock.

What I feel is a more authentic experience, and to be honest a better food experience was Shoryu.  Shoryu is located just down the road from Picadilly Circus and is fairly unassuming, but when we arrived, we found a fairly long queue.  The main difference between Shoryu and Bone Daddies is that almost all the soups here are served with pork bone broth (Tonkotsu) rather than chicken bone broth.  I'll be honest, I think this was the key difference.  Bone Daddies does serve the Tonkotsu, but this soup at Shoryu had much richer and deeper flavors without being overly heavy.  Further, you get a lot more soup and noodles here for slightly less money (avg soup: £10 versus £11 at Bone Daddies) and have a lot more choices of soups, sides, and starters.  For these reasons I would give Shoryu an 8.5/10.  Finally, one of the best things we had at Shoryu  wasn't even the Ramen, it was the Hirata buns.  These buns are freshly made everyday and filled with whatever your heart desires, as long as its pork, chicken, salmon, or prawn tempera, and as long as they still have some in stock.  These buns are fantastic, and remind me of the pork buns made famous by David Chang's Momofuku empire.  I will be back, both for the buns and the broth.

Drool
Bone Daddies on Urbanspoon Shoryu Ramen on Urbanspoon

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