"Slow cooked for over 18 hours, it's all about the stock that makes the ramen..."Review Rating: Reviewed by T.A.O
In case you hadnít noticed, ramen is beginning to take over Soho. Great. For too long weíve been left with the sole option of Wagamama for a bowl of miso/soy based steaming goodness. Tonkotsu is the latest hip ramen joint to attract a following, which is unsurprising given the quality of what we found on our visit.
The name tonkotsu refers to the stock that lies at the heart of the house ramen. Pork bone, fat, meat and anything else that will garner a porky flavour is simmered low for about a day until it descends into a rich, creamy stock that provides the base of the dish. Healthy? Perhaps not but when was anything this tasty healthy? You can tell Tonkotsu is part of a new breed of Japanese restaurants from the look. Low hanging light bulbs, visible filaments, squashed up tables and the reassuring presence of worn wooden panels equate to an intimate, stylish space. Tonktosu is small, youíre either at the front where you can see the chefs prepare the food or at the back by the bar, there is hardly even an in between in this atmospheric corridor restaurant.
We order the Tonkotsu Ramen and the Soho Ramen. The Tonkotsu is the sea-salt pork based broth and packs a rich flavour that somehow brings to mind the dirty texture of a Heinz Cream of Chicken. If youíre looking for clear, fresh ramen this is not it. However, the delicious combination of silky noodles, pork belly and soft-boiled egg is hard to get over. At £11 it is steep for ramen but when the stock is so obviously this well prepared you can just about forgive the price.
The Soho Ramen is a different proposition entirely. With a pork and chicken stock at its base and a smattering of menma, spring onion, pak choi and smoked haddock it is as salty but half as heavy. The Soho Ramen benefits from its lack of meat. The combination of pak choi and haddock makes for a fresher taste. But donít be fooled, this is equally as heavy as the Tonkotsu Ė starters are rendered unnecessary.
In keeping with the contemporary cuisine the bar serves a range of craft beer by the bottle along with Asahi on draught. The ramen alone may be expensive but £35 for a meal for two (ramen and a pint of Asahi each) of this kind of quality is money well spent.
T.A.O reviewed Tonkotsu on Fri 31 May 2013