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

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