63 Dean Street,
(020) 7437 0071
The ViewLondon Review
Quality ramen comes to Soho with the opening of Tonkotsu on Dean Street. You may think you know the Japanese staple but you don't until you’ve had the real deal - it’s not just noodles and broth that make a ramen, it’s the preparation, with the broth here being cooked and skimmed for up to 18 hours. Now that’s dedication.
The latest venture from Emma Reynolds and Ken Yamada (the team behind the popular chain, Tsuru), Tonkotsu has been in the works for some time with a number of tasting events at Tsuru Bishopsgate designed to test various ramens whilst they searched for the perfect site. And here, stockpots bubble in the window causing passersby to stop and peer through the window into a compact Tokyo ramen bar that suits Soho – with low lighting, Japanese fabrics hanging from steel piping, and stripped-back furniture.
Service has always been something that Tsuru has done very well and this seems to have rubbed off on the new member of the family. The differences between Tonkotsu and the Tokyo Spicy, two of the ramen dishes on the menu, are explained and an astute beer recommendation made. It's already proving popular, so prepare to queue come lunchtime.
The menu is small but then if you want ten pages of choice you are unlikely to be getting an authentic dish, prepared over the requisite hours. Starters include freshly made gyoza (pork; prawn and pork; shiitake and bamboo shoot - all £5), crab korokke and edamame (£3.50), with the ramen offering a choice between tonkotsu (£11), 'Tokyo Spicy' (£9) or shimeji, shiitake and miso (£9).
The main constituent of the tonkotsu ramen stock is pig bones (the literal translation), and it's these that make this rich, almost creamy pork dish so special. Served with tender pork slices, finely chopped vegetables and a perfectly oozy soft boiled egg, this excellent dish will leave you wondering why it's taken so long for proper ramen to make it to Soho. For those who like a little heat the pots of house chilli oil add a bit of kick, and it's this oil, with the addition of shredded pork, that makes up the equally impressive 'Tokyo Spicy'.
As well as the kind of Japanese beers you might expect (Sapporo, Asahi and Kirin - £3.80-£3.90), there are also a few that you might not. Bottles of 8 Ball Rye IPA and Smog Rocket Smoked Porter (both £3.90) from Beavertown in east London sit alongside a selection of Brewdog options, including the popular Punk IPA (£3.80). For those wanting a stronger taste of Japan there is a selection of Spirits and Sake, as well as wine and soft drinks.
The Last Word
Tonkotsu takes all the elements that make Tsuru a cut above its Japanese competition, and builds upon them further. Ramen may seem like a simple dish (and for that matter, a simple restaurant concept to roll out) but it could so easily be unbalanced, and a poor imitation of its inspiration. Instead, they seem to have mastered the art of the ramen here, so expect the sound of slurping to only get more pronounced.
Tonkotsu has been reviewed by 5 users