Shoryu: where ramen (finally) arrived with a bang

We always want something hearty when the weather’s drab so the girls and I planned a little chin wag over girl talk and comfort food. We decided to go for something warming, something complete and substantial, something with a bit of soul that reminds us of home: ramen. But where exactly can you find decent, authentic ramen in London?

Well folks, the ramen bandwagon has finally pulled up in town and there’s been a few recommended places to try. After reading reviews (and considering its proximity to Japan Centre), we picked Shoryu near Piccadilly Circus. It’s a Japanese ramen bar, the first of its kind in town, and there’s been so much rave about their Hakata tonkotsu broth.

We got there for early supper in time to skip the notorious queues but the small ramen bar was already buzzing. An elderly Japanese dude in chef whites warmly let us into the bar, through white curtains, and I swear I felt like I was stepping into a cartoon. We were further greeted with a loud ‘Irrashaimase!’ and then someone gave us three bangs off a Japanese drum. I wondered whether ninjas were going to jump out of nowhere to serve us.

We were quickly crammed sat by a teensy corner table and were given some nibbles while we decided on our feast…

Fresh, raw cabbage strips drizzled with sweetened rice wine vinegar? Really? Really! What a revelation this small plate of nibble was. It’s a really nice, easy snack anyone can copy at home too.


The servers were very helpful (and patient!) explaining their menu. They had 15 types of ramen to choose from (with tonkotsu (pork bone), shōyu (soy sauce), and miso broth base) and a decent number of starters and sides, plus a good drinks list. After choosing our food, we asked if we could move to a bigger table and they kindly agreed despite the queue forming outside already. Plus points for customer care!

 

We had some chicken kara-age (£5) to start and it was pretty straightforward. The meat was juicy and tender and the coating reminded me of fried chicken dinners our angels cooked at home.

We also had the soft shell crab (£6) which was nice and sweet, but I thought the crab at Ukai was better. Shoryu’s was a tad bit oily too, but nothing some table napkins can’t rectify. I still enjoyed this very much.

And then there was ramen. Three massive bowls of ramen.

Being the spice girl that I am (if you wannabe my zigazig…… uh, yeah no), I chose the spicy miso ramen (£9.90). It was a massive massive massive bowl and I immediately fell in love with its vibrant colours and its fragrant aroma. Topped with barbecue pork, marinated soft boiled egg (which I gave away as I don’t eat egg), sweet corn, beansprouts and spring onion, I seriously knew this was exactly what I needed and wanted.

The miso broth was delicious. My first spoonful was so orgasmic I had to stop myself from doing a Meg Ryan (circa When Harry Met Sally). It was a very balanced broth – a bit salty, a bit spicy, a teeny bit sweet – and it didn’t give you a greasy after taste. Plus it’s quite light, every spoonful begged for another one straight after.

The noodles they use at Shoryu are traditional Hakata hosamen noodleswhich they also sell to take away for £1.50 if you wanted to make your own ramen at home. They were so ridiculously flavourful, you’d think they’ve been soaked in the broth eons before serving. But they seriously remained, firm and springy and each mouthful was just a delightful chew. Those noodles are so good and I’m happy there was a whole lot of it in my bowl.

I thought the char siu was a wee bit of a let down in appearance at it looked unappetizing in its gray-er shade of pale. However it was quite nice, with an almost melt-in-your mouth texture and a clean full-on pork taste. It did give a decent flavour profile to the ramen itself but I would have liked it a bit more charred.

We all had a great time trying to finish our big bowls of soul. G had the Hokkaido Curry Ramen (£10.90) which was quite nice and had chicken kara age instead of the char siu. Ate T had the Sapporo Miso Ramen (£8.90) which I thought was the milder version of mine.

Can you guess who finished everything in her bowl?

After finishing our ramen, while contemplating whether we had sufficient belly space for dessert, a server asked if we could share our four-seater with a solo diner. I’ve never actually seen the ‘Share A Seat, Win A Friend’ movement in restaurants here so it was rather refreshing to know that Shoryu does that. They also have a 30-minute tachigui (eating while standing) service which is great for those who don’t have much time.

We decided that we had room for one more on our table, and more importantly, for dessert. We really didn’t to think much about that last bit.

We shared two matcha based desserts. Immediately you can see the copious dusting of matcha powder.

The matcha motchi (£3.50) was okay. I liked the mochi crust but I thought the green tea paste filling was a bit too much, and the powder they dusted the dessert with gave it a bitterness that fell strange to the palate. We had to blow the powder off, and that made it a whole lot yummier.

The matcha cheesecake (£4.50) had a good creamy texture, but just like the mochi dessert, I wish they didn’t go OTT on the green tea powder.

We left Shoryu feeling full, comforted and happy as our dining experience was super pleasant. Service was really good despite a very busy night and the waiters were really helpful without being all snooty. The ramen was excellent and I am so pleased that finally we have good, authentic Asian bowl of soul here in London. I cannot wait to go back to try the other types. So far, this is my 2013 favourite restaurant in town. =)

Shoryu Ramen Bar
9 Regent Street, London, SW1Y | No reservations, walk-in only
Average spend: £10pp for ramen, £25 with sides, dessert and drinks (I had a recommended sake)

Square Meal

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