35 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5AA www.shoryuramen.com
Shoryu Ramen opened its doors for the first time in the UK in November 2012 and has been rapidly growing to include nine locations, including one in Japan. They specialise in Hakata Tonkotsu ramen which is a thick, rich, white pork soup with thin, straight ramen noodles.
The inside of Shoryu Ramen is unmistakably Japanese – dark wood, bamboo and a gong that is hit every time a new customer arrives.
The bowls of ramen are not meanly portioned, so sides are only recommended if you are feeling particularly peckish when you visit. The Shoryu buns are light and fluffy and arrive in a theatrical style with a bamboo steamer each. However, the filling is hit and miss – pork belly smothered in a rich barbecue sauce melts in your mouth, however the chicken managed to be tough and chewy with a soggy batter.
Soft shell crab should be a dish that stops you in your tracks with sweet, soft meat lightly coated in a crisp tempura batter, however it failed to quite live up to these expectations with soft batter that turned the whole thing in a mushy mouthful.
The Hakata Shihou Tonkotsu is a speciality of the chef at the Covent Garden brand and also served at their Hakata branch in Japan, so it would have been rude not to try it.
Described as an extra creamy traditional bubble tonkotsu broth topped with fried shallots as well as the char siu barbecue pork belly, nitamago egg, kikurage mushroom, spring onion, sesame, ginger and nori seaweed that the majority of the broths come with.
It was perfectly fine. The broth was undeniably creamy, however it was lacking in the depth I would expect from something that has been cooking and maturing for 12 hours.
The noodles were well cooked but didn’t marry with the broth in your mouth. And, the whole thing was lacking a bit of salt. On each of the tables is garlic, sesame seeds and (low sodium) soy sauce - giving you the ability to play with the flavours to suit your personal palette.
The Kimchi Seafood Tonkotsu lived up to its fiery kimchi broth description but again lacked real depth of flavour. You could taste each spice individually but they didn’t blend together to create a harmonious flavour. The seafood was executed well plentiful – leading to moments of ‘oh, what’s this’ every time something new was discovered in the thick tangle of noodles.
I had heard so many amazing things about Shoryu Ramen that maybe I was expecting too much when I visited, or maybe I am too spoilt for choice living in this city with such a diverse and exciting food scene but, I was anticipating a dish that really blew me away.
However, if all you want is a decent bowl of tonkotsu ramen with a Dirty Lychee Martini, Shoryu Ramen is an enjoyable night.