Ramen Night @ Tonkotsu, SOHO

Unfortunately, Hubbie is not at all fond of noodles.
He has never developed a knack for dealing with slippery strands in the bowl with chopsticks for all those years we have been together. In fact, he doesn’t even like much oriental cuisine apart from occasional sushi rolls.
Therefore, I call on my dear Fei when I am itching for ramen.

We met up in front of Costa at the junction of Dean Street & Old Compton Street…


Like it was trying to tell us that the rain was on its way, the air in London was humid.
The humidity must have been great for the sale of beer. Pubs and bars around Soho were busy with brimful of punters who were jabbering away with drinks in hands.

Our usual ramen haunt, Tonkotsu


The eatery was already lively with the fans of their noodles.

Ramen is a kind of food which divides the opinion.
Some people prefer ramen broth to be rich while others would rather have it lighter. Or, some want their noodle thick and chewy but others may insist it has to be delicate and less heavy on stomach. Or how the broth is seasoned? How long the noodle is cooked? All factors enter the equation when it comes to choosing one’s personal favourite.
Also, all notable ramen bars in London, such as Tonkotsu, Bone Daddies, Shoryu and Ittenbari, have their own signature styles. Hence, I encourage anyone who is new to ramen to sample each eatery before forming any opinion.
I emphasize this because I came across an appalling article done by a completely incompetent & inadequate food critic in the Independent weekend magazine recently.  In the article, this so called restaurant expert paid his snooty visit to one of the ramen bars I mentioned above and recounted his pathetic experience riddled with his own errors.
Mr.Walsh, no ramen expert wouldn’t dream of ordering a sickly sweet saki cocktail at any ramen bar even if it is on the menu. Their barmen concoct those dodgy cocktails because old conservatives like Mr.Walsh tend to expect “something exotic & exciting” whenever they are toting female companions. And ordering Tempura with ramen? What is wrong with him? He hasn’t got a clue about Japanese cuisine, has he? Then, finishing his ramen dinner with a Dorayaki pancake? I was horrified with their greedy appetite. He & his missus decided to go full on because dinner was on the Independent?
No one, I insist, NO ONE will have a cheese cake or Dorayaki pancake at any ramen bar! He may feebly protest that it was offered on the menu. Yes, but again, because of the westerners like him who expect all restaurants in UK to provide dessert as a part of three-course dinner, even ramen bars like Shoryu compel to provide some on their menu.
Ramen bars are there for ramen only. Of course, side dish, such as Chicken Karaage or Gyoza is of paramount importance. But everything else should be consumed at its diner’s risk.
Eating diverse cuisines of the world is not just about sampling an individual dish but about experiencing a new way of eating. Some eating cultures may demand a whole new order and attitude before even sitting at the table.
To the editor of the Independent, you should have found someone much more knowledgable than Mr.Walsh to review Shoryu. Apart from his opinion about their pork Gyoza, which I also found a room for improvement, I was appall by his lack of insight into Japanese food and its culture. You wouldn’t find any more bigoted and embarrassing opinion like Mr.Walsh’s even in any Internet forum such as Yelp which is made up by normal people. Just employ someone who has grown up with a diverse cultural background to review restaurants of modern London. Old guards like him are no longer fit for the purpose, therefore they should be mothballed. FULL STOP.

Sorry for letting off my steam here. But I just can’t stand an ill-informed snob like him, dispensing his antics in a national paper. He really should have stuck to his comfort zone like reviewing some gastro pubs or bistros in the City…

Anyway, our classic starters were brought to the table shortly…


Mmmm… They look GREAT, don’t they?
By the way, my mom can’t stand any chicken dish, therefore, I can’t have any Karaage or Yakitori when I am with her in Japan.

Why does she hate this succulent golden beauty!


Finger-lick in’ & lip-smack in’ good.

Their pork Gyoza was as solid as usual…


For Gyoza, it’s the skin which make or break this dish.
And Tonkotsu’s had a just-about-right amount of thickness. If it was too thin, it wouldn’t hold its filling well. But if it was too thick, then the skin wouldn’t be crispy.

And my Soho Ramen followed…


Argh, I committed a cardinal sin of not photographing  before plunging my chopsticks into it!
I was too eager. It was Fei who reminded me what I had forgotten.
My sincere apology for the ramen’s rather messy appearance (^_^;)
Still, it tasted superb as usual and I was happy to quell my recent ramen obsession.

After finishing our ramen, we made a beeline for Amorino on Old Compton Street.
Their rich and creamy gelato was the best remedie for our seriously salted tongues…


Dorayaki after ramen? You must be barking mad, Mr.Critic…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

10 thoughts on “Ramen Night @ Tonkotsu, SOHO

  1. I wish everyone could read your criticism of the critic. Wankers like that should stick to what they know. I love a BIIIIG chashumen with an even bigger beer. ^^

    I always have trouble finishing it, though. Kin is a gyoza fan, but I would never be able to eat them AND my ramen!


    • I know! I hope he will Google his shitty article and find what I wrote about him. I hate someone so uncool & conservative like him. He just doesn’t get it, does he? A typical British middle class bore. I am sure the staff & their fellow diners were looking on them with pity…
      The only drink permitted to accompany ramen is very dry beer, FULL STOP
      My husband named me a “Pelican”, reasoning that I have a bigger mouth than a stomach. I know, I order too many dishes but I want to taste them all. Some people even order a bowl of rice with them too, don’t they? It must be carb-overload! I see the Brits make a disturbing sandwich called “chips buttie” – fried potato sandwiched with buttered white bread slices (it has to be white, apparently) which I can never stomach…

  2. oh my gosh! dorayaki with ramen? blasphemy! and everybody should know that nihonshu should only be mixed with one other thing. more nihonshu, of course. 😉

    i’m a huge fan of karamiso ramen, i have a place just around the block from me called “tenichi ramen” that is absolutely incredible. they also make a mean butakimchi itame that i always order as an appetizer.

    your ramen looks great!

    super quick question about your karaage etiquette: do you use the lemon before or after you take a taste? do you lemon the whole serving, or just one bite at a time? i never know the most polite way to go about it, and i feel like a doofus when eating out with friends.

    • Hi misha, thank you for the comment (^-^)
      I know! This Mr.Walsh the idiot doesn’t know a thing about Japanese cuisine, does he? I don’t understand why some paper like the Independent which is well-known for being liberal decided to hire a conservative like him.
      Ahhh, Karamiso ramen! I love ramens with a fiery kick. They are great when it’s cold or hot outside, aren’t they? I used to be a surfer a light year ago and enjoyed slurping a bowl of spicy ramen after a session in ice cold beach. The pepper warmed me up from inside. Butakimuchi itame with ice cold dry beer! My mouth is watering like the Pavlov’s Dogs.
      About the lemon, if it is a wedge of lemon accompanying your Karaage or grilled fish, squeeze the entire juice over the food before you commence eating. The Japanese believe any sour stuff, such as lemon or vineger, makes fried food less greasy. You may witness diners at ramen bars pouring white vineger on fried noodle (Katayakisoba). Or mixing vinegar, chill oil and soy sauce for dipping their gyoza.
      Hope it has answered your question. Let’s stay in touch (^-^)

      • sweet! thanks for the etiquette lesson. yeah, i’m all about going heavy on the vinegar for my gyoza dipping sauce. i make a pretty mean karaage, so i might look into serving it with lemon every now and again when i have friends over.

        keep up the great work. i’m loving your blog posts, so i’ll be sure to stop by every now and again to learn a little more about the greatest food spots london has to offer.

      • Oh thank you! I’ll definitely check out your past posts this weekend for sure. London used to be a culinary desert but much better in the past 10 years or so. I am hardly a gourmet but try my best to showcase ordinary faces of this old city. YOROSHIKU-ONEGAISHIMASU!(^_^)

  3. Lol, good to know I’m not the only one who sometimes forgets to take a picture of their plate before digging in to it! All the food looked really good, especially the chicken karaage, succulent golden beauties indeed!

    And glad you called out that Mr. Walsh. I always see his type at izakayas here in Southern California. They have no idea that the food is served tapas style and they’ll harass the restaurant staff by asking where the tempura and California rolls set meals are on the menu. So annoying!

    • Sometimes I am so eager and forget to take the best shot! It’s not easy to be calm & collected when my favourite food is staring up my face (^_^;)
      So you have those annoying twits in there too! I think they are just embarrassment. And they are the only one who don’t know it. *SIGH*

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