Review: Tonkotsu – authentic ramen bar & restaurant
Published 27 August 2012
Tonkotsu is Japanese for pork bone broth, which is the amazing soup broth that the ramen bar with the same name uses for its authentic ramen noodles. Just opened a few weeks ago, its seen by many as throwing the guantlet down to Koya just a few streets over, who make authentic udon noodles.
So what’s so special about ramen? Isn’t that the cheap 30p dried instant noodle packs you get at ASDA? Yes and no… instant noodles are of the ramen type, but that’s because the instant noodles were based on the real ramen noodles, which have been extremely popular in Japan for ages. Almost everywhere you go in Tokyo, you’re never very far away from a ramen noodle shop serving this soup noodle.
Tonkotsu is a range of new restaurants that specialise in one dish. In this case, all you can have for mains is a bowl of ramen noodles. There are three varieties though – the original Tonkotsu Ramen, which uses their famous pork bone soup that has been boiled for more than half a day. Then there’s the Tokyo Spicy Ramen, which is a pork and chicken stock that gives a bit of a kick. Finally, to satisfy the vegetarians, there’s the Shimeji, Shiitake & Miso Ramen, which has a Miso-based, konbu and shiitake stock.
Being the carnivores we are, we of course opted for the Tonkotsu Ramen and Tokyo Spicy Ramen:
The Tonkotsu soup broth had so much flavour, I think I almost forgot about the ramen while slurping mouthfuls of the soup! Its a bit different from normal noodle soups – a bit thicker than usual, probably because its so rich. The egg that comes with the noodles are free range with a golden yolk that is slightly runny, and have been marinated in a soy-based sauce. I am going to try to replicate the soy marinated eggs at home!
If the main courses were limited in options, there is a bit more choice for the starters – gyoza, edamame, salad, chicken karaage, and tofu hiya yakko. We went for the prawn & pork gyoza, which was one of the best we’ve ever had in London – lightly crisp on the outside, with a thin dumpling skin and juicy filling:
Finally, dessert. There’s only one choice on the menu. Ice cream mochi – three different flavours of salted caramel, yuzu, and sesame. The mochi came out slightly too frozen, but after it defrosted for a bit, it was heavenly. Not sure if its made freshly on site, but the sesame one was good. The yuzu one was refreshing, like a fruity sorbet on a hot day.
Overall, Tonkotsu Ramen Noodle Bar has been successful at doing the one thing it set out to do – making great ramen noodles. They’ve also managed to make some pretty damn good gyozas as well. Price-wise, its slightly pricey at £11 for a bowl of ramen noodles, but it is by far the best ramen noodles in London I have tasted and so deserves to be at this price point.