Thursday, 19 September 2013

Tonkotsu: where we had the first ramen of Septembrrrr

The 10-degree drop in temperature marked the official end of Summer; the 'Brrrr! months are definitely back. An exciting thing about this is that you always end up eating something hearty, warming and comforting. Screw that salad, it will never quite hit it right like a stew or a soup. It's an awesome excuse for that extra bit of pudge. If you know what I mean.

I was feeling cold the other day and wanted a bit of comfort food. Scenes from Tampopo and Ramen Girl sporadically flashed in my head throughout the working day. I was raring to try another type of ramen at the usual joint but my date suggested we "give others a chance". Skeptical but determined to not be too much of a creature of habit, we ended up at Tonkotsu Dean Street. We've heard good reviews about this place anyway, often challenging Shoryu as the best ramen place in town. Finally, we get to have our own verdict.
We started with some prawn gyoza (£5). I thought it was neither hit nor miss and may have been slightly on the oily side (nothing a little serviette patting can't fix). Tasty, but I've had better.


The soft shell crab kara age (£8) was great, and what's not to love? Deep fried battered crabby goodness that didn't bathe in nor drip with expected grease. It was the meatiest soft-shell crab I've had in ages. I could easily eat five servings of this, if it weren't for my J.Lo abs project fear of excessive cholesterol intake.

And then came our steaming bowls of ramen.
Ate T ordered the eponymous tonkotsu (£11) which came surrounded by horn-blowing cherubs. The broth, a shio based pork stock, looked rich, creamy and just about exactly what traditional tonkotsu must look like. I had no shame in asking if I could have a bit of her soup to try and when I had that first spoonful, the Hallelujah's came steaming off my ears. The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth and that soft-boiled egg looked so pretty and made me want to eat egg for the first time in ages. I was almost ready to give up my own order for hers.

I had the Soho ramen (£11) and it looked rather, uh, sad in comparison.

But hey, didn't someone tell us to never judge a ramen by its bowl and colour? Here it is a little bit closer...
In truth, my ramen was actually pretty decent. It was a sea-salt based ramen with pork and chicken broth, smoked haddock fillet and lumpfish caviar. You can definitely taste the smokiness off the fish, but you can also taste a different flavour off the broth. Not sure the caviar made any difference but it was interesting enough; I quite liked it.

The noodles were quite sufficient and filling. They were pretty springy as far as noodles go but some of mine were a bit dry and stuck together (like when you forget to oil your pasta on the boil?). Nonetheless, they were tasty and stood firm even after a good soaking in the broth off my deep bowl.

I always seem to have ramen with this lady. =)

I'm genuinely pleased to have finally tried Tonkotsu. I'd go back to have a bowl of tonkotsu and two servings of the crab all to myself, or maybe try the chicken kara age which looked great and a different type of gyoza next time. The place definitely brought a sense of comfort and definitely hit the spot when it needed exactly just that.

Tonkotsu
63 Dean St, London, UK W1D 4QG; No reservations
Ave spend pp: £20

Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

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