From Kyushu-style tonkotsu made with long-simmered pork bone broth, to simple soy sauce based soup, you can now get your ramen fix in all sorts of forms in London. From traditional Japanese restaurants to places doing something a bit different, here's our pick of where to grab a steaming bowl of thin wheat noodles in broth. It's the best ramen joints in London.
The best ramen in London
The flavours are bold; the dining room is tightly packed; the staff are friendly. Bone Daddies is a gusty New York-style ramen bar with blaring rock music and a range of seriously rich ramen dishes. It specialises in chicken bone broth options, the Tantanmen 2 a stand-out blending Chinese wheat noodles with sesame and chilli.
Venue says: “New spacial ramen, the 'tomato tonkotsu', has just been launched! Be the first one to try it!”
The speciality here is tonkotsu with pork loin slices, crunchy kikurage (cloud ear mushroom) and thin, own-made noodles (in the dish called Shiromaru Classic). Vegetarians are not left out at Ippudo: there’s a seaweed and mushroom broth-based version that’s topped with fried tofu. Sadly, this is another no-bookings restaurant, and despite running to 80 covers, queues can gather.
Founded in Japan in 2009, this award-winning tonkotsu specialist arrived in London in September 2014. Small, brightly lit and minimal, it is not the place for a leisurely meal. And it has a serious downside: lengthy mealtime queues outside its doors. But this is exceptional ramen, using smooth, rich, seriously savoury tonkotsu broth – one of the best we’ve tried in London.
There are just two options on the menu of this Pop Brixton vendor – classic tonkotsu ramen, served with tender, char-grilled pork belly slices, bouncy noodles and crunchy kikurage (cloud ear) mushrooms. And a vegan ‘mellow miso’ version with fried tofu, shredded carrot and spring onion. Tonkotsu comes with the option of a marinated egg while the mellow miso can be pimped with meat. This is ramen as it should be.
Venue says: “A free sushi roll selected by the chef for tables of four or more (evening only). Show this page when ordering to claim. T&Cs apply.”
This Marylebone Japanese looks old school with its slatted wooden façade, and you’ll get a traditional and solid steaming bowl of noodles and broth here too. Choose from tonkotsu or chicken katsu, or take the veggie option filled with wakame seaweed.
Sure, it’s not the cosiest spot, but the big bowls of inventive noodles and broth at Nanban will keep you more than toastie. Order Kyushu-style tonkotsu or plump for one of our favourite dishes in London, the lazy goat tsukemen, two bowls of deliciousness that form a firm and flavoursome ramen.
Run by the same people as the Japan Centre across the road, Shoryu mix authentic Japanese flavours with a little bit of innovation. Specialising in tonkotsu ramen, made with a long-simmered pork bone broth, the bowls are filled with bouncy noodles and include a choice of unusual toppings like kikurage mushrooms and, er, parmesan cheese. It’s the Dracula Tonkotsu with extra garlic that has us slurping up every last drop, though.
Another champion of the long-simmered pork bone broth variety of noodles in soup stock, Tonkotsu serve theirs topped with slices of tender pork, beansprouts and half a marinated soft-boiled egg. They also offer a veggie noodle soup here, packed with shiitake mushrooms and konbu (kelp). There's a second branch in Haggerston.
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This Korean bar and grill in Maida Vale certainly looks bang on trend - there's loads of bare brickwork, imposing chrome ducts and exposed filaments dangling over the bar. There's a contemporary feel to the food too, with classic Korean dishes often given a modern twist or two. Traditionalists shouldn't fret, though. Dishes such as kimchi, bossam, jap chae noodles and beef bulgogi all feature, as do various dolsot bibimbaps - stone pot dishes of mixed rice with an oyster sauce. Steak tartar - here seasoned with sesame sauce and served with sliced pear and egg yolk - is an example of the more imaginative side of the menu. A short wine list keeps the focus on big-hitting old world regions, but bottles from Argentina and Chile feature too. Cocktails include a selection based on soju (the popular Korean spirit), while beers include Asahi and Hite - the latter from Korea. Keep an eye out for lunch deals, too.
Venue says: “Enjoy the sizzling barbecue whilst sipping on our exclusive blend of Asian cocktails as you look over Little Venice (Maida Vale) canal.”