Riding the noodle new wave that washed over London in 2012, Tonkotsu (offshoot of Tsuru) plies a no-nonsense trade in Kyushu-style ramen – distinguished by a creamy, pork-bone broth. A pipe-riddled ceiling, walls lined with splintery wood and dim light from a medley of suspended bulbs lend a certain industrial cachet.
With just four flavours of ramen, three kinds of gyoza and a handful of sides to choose from, a meal here can be swift, though that doesn’t prevent queues forming. Harried waitresses with good intentions try to optimise use of tables, but this is yet another popular Soho eaterie with a no-bookings policy. The food doesn’t warrant such high demand: ‘handmade, daily’ pork gyoza were let down by a frankfurter-esque filling; classically fatty tonkotsu soup needs to be steaming hot, but on occasion we’ve found it served unpalatably lukewarm.
Since February 2013, Tonkotsu has been making its own, very good noodles on the premises. In line with a Tokyo ‘big night out’, more attention is paid to beer than wine, with some US and London ales giving the Asahi-Kirin-Sapporo triumvirate a run for their money, as well as a Japanese beer brewed in Belgium (Owa).