Time to share where to eat the best ramen in London. From Tonkotsu and Ippudo to Bone Daddies and Kanada-Ya, where will you go for your bowl of noodle soup?
Who doesn’t love ramen? When it comes to ramen joints, it seems Londoners just can’t get enough of them. Once a dish you’d only spot on a Wagamama menu, the humble Japanese noodle soup is really making a name for itself in the capital. It’s cool to slurp… in fact, it’s something we want to do regularly, and in public! And it’s something we’re happy to wait for. Yes you’ll find with all of the options below, you’re likely to pay your dues in queues.
However, not all bowls of ramen were created equal. I learned this while I was in Japan. There are several different styles and varieties produced in Japan, often using recipes that have been passed down over the years. A small handful have made their way to London, with tasty bases include miso, soy and pork or chicken bone broth.
From salty, brown broths to creamy-ones, which restaurants strike the perfect balance of flavoursome soup base to soft, silky noodles? Which have special ingredients that make them extra memorable? What is the secret that sets one ramen join apart from another? Who is top of the broths? And do you need to break the bank to get the best flavour? Let’s check out a few contenders for the best ramen in London.
One of my favourites. The broth is SO delicious. Meaty, salty and flavoursome. There’s another secret to Tonkotsu’s winning formula – the noodles. The founder was once told ‘if you don’t make your own noodles, you’re just a soup shop’. He then started the mission to import a noodle machine from Japan, research flour types and finally started making his own noodles. The good news? There are new branches opening up all the time. Right now there are 6 including in Soho, Hackney and even a ramen bar in Selfridges Food Hall!
Order: Tonkotsu Ramen
Ramen price: From £9
I first visited Bone Daddies a few years ago with a friend. After waiting for around 20 minutes we were seated on high stools, started sipping on strong cocktails and decided what to order. Choosing between steaming bowls of chicken bone or pork bone broth proved tricky and so we went for one of each – mine topped with a salmon fillet and his topped with chashu pork. They were both delicious and one thing I really felt was that Bone Daddies isn’t just about the food. There’s also the music. It’s no ordinary Japanese noodle bar – this one comes with a soundtrack of old school rock! Oh… and the aprons! Bone Daddies have plastic aprons ready to wear so you don’t slurp on your best outfit. The broth is pretty rich here, and while I wouldn’t say this is London’s most authentic ramen joint, it makes for a fun dinner.
Order: Spicy Miso Ramen with padron peppers
Ramen price: From £10
Shoryu Ramen specialises in Hakata tonkotsu ramen from the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. It has its own style – with a thick, rich, white pork soup and thin, straight ramen noodles. It’s a creamy broth compared to the two mentioned above, but still rich in flavour. By the number of Japanese people eating here, perhaps it’s providing a more authentic flavour? Who knows! And with new branches popping up across London all the time, they must be doing something right!
Order: Piri Piri Ramen with jalapeños and top secret spicy gochujang sauce
Ramen Price: From £9
Kanada-Ya has a reputation for being one of London’s most authentic ramen bars – so it’s hardly surprising there’s been a queue of around 15-20 people every single time I’ve been past! They simmer their pork bones for 18 hours to create a smooth, rich and very tasty tonkotsu style broth. While you may wait a while (there are only about 30 seats inside) your ramen will be delivered to the table within 5 minutes of being seated. And yes – it’s worth the wait. They offer toppings including meats and eggs, but for full-on indulgence, go for the porcini truffle ramen.
Order: Truffle Ramen
Ramen price: From £10.50
— Kanada-Ya (@KanadaYa_LDN) September 4, 2016
The only global contender on my list, Ippudo is already going strong in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and across Japan. In London since 2014, it’s another restaurant where the queue outside tells the tale! It’s dark and mysterious like a Japanese nightclub. Also hailing from Hakata, expect creamy tonkotsu broths packed full of flavour with springy al-dente noodles. Don’t miss the delicious cocktails, and if you fancy something other than ramen, this is the best option with the menu including katsu, sushi and steamed buns.
Order: Karaka Men (original tonkotsu broth topped with spicy miso paste)
Ramen price: From £10
A chilled out option, Sasuke is a minimalist spot for a quick bowl of ramen. Without the lengthy queues of the other restaurants, their ramen still packs a punch. Founded by Tokyo-born Toru Sasaki, he brought all the skills he learned cooking at his parents’ soba restaurant from the age of 10! It’s fair to say, Sasuke is less of a ‘dinner spot’, but you’re guaranteed a delicious fill. A nice touch – they bring a surabachi with your meal (a Japanese pestle and mortar) so you can grind up a few sesame seeds to top your ramen!
Order: Spicy Fire Ramen (you can choose how fiery you want it on a scale of 1 – 3)
Ramen price: From £8.90
— akihiro in London (@Aki_RisingSun) March 23, 2016
Where’s your top ramen joint in London? What did you order? Let me know!
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