The best ramen in London
The flavours are bold, the dining room’s tightly packed and the staff are friendly at Bone Daddies: a gusty New York-style noodle joint with blaring rock music and some seriously rich ramen. We’re sold on the chicken bone broth specialities, especially the standout Tantanmen 2 with wheat noodles, sesame and chilli.
Ramen connoisseurs know all about Ippudo, and this Villiers Street outlet doesn’t disappoint. The look is minimal but smart, and the ‘grand menu’ features multiple versions of tonkotsu including a bowl of ‘karaka-men’ that’s solid, warm and comforting, with a kick from miso paste. Branches in Covent Garden and Canary Wharf.
Mega in reputation, massive in quality, this no-bookings ramen specialist has a huge fan base – and the queues to prove it. Bijou and bright, it serves custom-built bowls of seriously savoury deliciousness with cooked-to-order wheat noodles and a choice of pork belly or char-sui pork collar. Branches in Angel and Covent Garden.
Now holed up permanently in Pop Brixton, Koi specialises in ‘classic’ tonkotsu involving tender chargrilled pork belly, bouncy noodles and crunchy kikurage (cloud ear mushrooms). There are also two miso riffs including a vegan version with fried tofu and another that’s pimped up with pork. Just add a marinated egg.
With its slatted wood façade, this Marylebone Japanese looks decidedly old school, and – no surprise – it serves up totally traditional bowls of steaming ramen noodles in broth alongside its tempura, teriyaki and sushi. Choose straight tonkotsu with braised pork loin, deep-fried chicken katsu or the veggie option loaded with wakame seaweed.
Sure, it’s not the cosiest spot in town, but Nanban’s inventive noodles and broth will keep you more than toasty. There’s a meatless variant named after Chinese pop star and movie queen Faye Wong, but we’re fans of the ‘Lazy Goat’ – a two-parter that delivers unctuous ramen beauty (one bowl containing a rich deep curry, the other holding fat, wiggly noodles).
From the team behind the Japan Centre, Shoryu mixes authentic flavours with a little bit of innovation. Tonkotsu ramen is the main event, although the list of additional toppings includes some unusual options (piri-piri sauce, anyone?). However, it’s the Dracula version with extra garlic that has us slurping up every last drop.
Another champion of noodles in long-simmered pork bone broth, Tonkotsu’s eponymous mainstays come generously 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 kombu (kelp). There are currently six branches spread across town.
It popped up briefly in Chinatown, but this Southwark spot is the first permanent London outpost of the global ramen chain Yamagoya. With drinks in the chiller and a buzzer sounding when your food’s ready, it feels a bit like a fast-food joint, although the signature house ramen passes muster for value and depth of flavour.
Venue says Japanese Ramen since 1969!
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