It’s commonly held that you can’t get good ramen outside of Japan – or at least, even if it is good, it won’t be the same as the Japanese variety due to subtle but important differences in the flavour and hardness of the natural water. That may be so, but Shoryu Ramen comes closest to replicating one of the best and boldest ramen flavours Japan has to offer – tonkotsu ramen. Tonkotsu (not to be confused with tonkatsu – a breaded cutlet of pork or chicken) literally means ‘pork bone’, and is a soup stock made by boiling said bones, plus fat and collagen, over high heats for hours, creating an intense meaty broth in which to cook and serve the ramen noodles.
One of the best-known purveyors of tonkotsu ramen in Japan is Ippudo, a company originating from the island of Kyushu but that has now spread out all over Japan (and even has a branch in New York). I fell in love with tonkotsu ramen at a branch of Ippudo in Okayama City, central Japan – and have been on the lookout for ramen that can rival it ever since. I tried Momofuku ramen bar in New York, but found the soup stock to be a bit bland. Suffice to say, I’d given up on finding a decent ramen bar outside of Japan.
Which brings me to Shoryu Ramen. It’s certainly not perfect – the sliced pork served on top of the ramen doesn’t have the thickness or the melt-in-your-mouth meatiness that it should. And the noodles were slightly undercooked for my liking – Shoryu should start offering a choice of noodle hardness, as they do in Japan. But the broth itself – wow. It instantly brought back memories of Ippudo, with a meaty intensity and depth of flavour I haven’t found anywhere since. The egg, bamboo and nori seaweed were also excellent. The ramen is served in huge bowls, and for £9.50 seems just about reasonably priced to me. They also offer a variety of embellishments on the basic tonkotsu option – including a mix of miso and tonkotsu, and extra chashu (sliced pork). The gyoza we had as a starter were very good – piping hot and with a subtle spicyness – and I’ll be back to try the Hirata buns. All in all, the best ramen restaurant I’ve been to in London.
Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu Ramen – £9.50
Gyozu (six dumplings) – £5
Shoryu Ramen, 9 Regent Street, London, SW1Y 4LR
Monday – Saturday 11.30 – 15.30 / 17.00 – 23.00 (22.00 Sundays and Bank Holidays)
Last order 30 minutes before closing