63 Dean Street London W1D 4QG
0207 437 0071
Us British are renowned for our queuing skills and with the rash of no booking joints that have spread across London like a nasty rash we are certainly getting lots of practice. However at Tonkotsu queuing is not a huge issue with an average wait time of about 15 minutes or less and with only three main courses on the menu and a handful of sides, which are served within seconds of ordering, turnover is swift. Tonkotsu along with Ittenbari and Bone Daddy’s are the first dedicated Ramen (wheat-based noodles in a rich stock) shops to open in Soho. Ramen is hugely popular in Japan where there are 34,488 ramen shops with nearly 4,000 of those being in Tokyo. The stock is made from pork and chicken bones with vegetables and sometimes fish bones or katsuboshi ‘bonito’ (dried, smoked skipjack tuna) and this is added to the ‘base’ (a concentrated blend of miso, soy or salt) to create a soup into which fresh alkaline wheat noodles and a variety of toppings, which nearly always include pork and egg.
The interior of Tonkotsu is cramped, buzzy and busy with the front of the restaurant dominated by the Ramen station where the bowls are put together.
I ordered a glass of Hells Lager. (£4) from the Camden Town Brewery which was a revelation. The bitterness of the hops was balanced by an apricot sweetness and it made a terrific accompaniment to the main event.
The restaurant majors in pork stock so rather counterintuitively I opted for the Miso and Shimeji Mushroom Ramen (£9). In a sense this is a superior fast food and I had gone for the healthy option which was much lighter in flavour and fat content than the pork based Ramen dishes. The crunch of bean sprouts blended with the spring of the noodles; a luscious egg blazed like a dying sun and the mushroom and miso stock was fragrant and nourishing and a great combination.
Soho has so many exciting and accessible food options now and a large market of young professionals eager for new casual food experiences. Tonkotsu is thriving in this environment and is worth a visit.
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