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An Islington branch of the ramen shop.
There’s an adorable comic on Kanada-Ya’s website that tells the story of Kanada-San and his legendary tonkotsu ramen. A former cyclist, he was injured, then quit his job and went to ramen school. He ended up creating one of the best versions in Japan. When someone tried to steal his recipe, he moved his shop – with his 18-hour chashu (barbecued pork) bone broth, secret sauce and hand-pulled noodles – from Yukuhashi to London.
This Islington location is the third Kanada-Ya on our side of the world, and while the decor is a bit bare and the atmosphere quite food court-like (three Ed Sheeran songs played while I was there), the ramen, true to form, was spectacular. The famous tonkotsu broth was deep and creamy, but miraculously light and topped with thin slices of pork belly that fall apart as soon you you poke them with a chopstick. The Japanese-Sichuan ‘gekikara’ ramen, with crumbles of spicy minced pork belly and a creamy broth, had loads of heat and little pools of bright red chilli oil swimming on top – delicious.
You can choose the hardness of your noodles: do go ‘hard’, as the menu recommends, because it really gives the dish texture. A few sides were also great – the rice and shredded pork belly, and the crisp-edged karaage chicken – but the ramen is fairly filling, so only order them if you’re really hungry. Arigato, Kanada-San, for bringing your delicious ramen to London. I give thanks to the person who tried to steal your recipe.
Variations of London’s most popular ramen include Tonkotsu X (pork & corn-fed chicken bone broth and chashu pork belly – exclusive to London!), the extremely popular Gekikara (pork & corn-fed chicken broth with spicy ‘tan-tan’ minced pork belly chashu), Chicken Paitan (corn-fed chicken bone broth with chashu pork collar) and Vegetarian Ramen. Small plates of Japanese fried chicken, Truffle Edamame, Seared Chashu Pork Belly and Ongiri (Japanese rice balls) are also available.