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).
63 Dean Street
|Opening hours:||Lunch served noon-3pm, dinner served 5-10.30pm Mon-Fri. Meals served noon-10.30pm Sat; noon-10pm Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road|
|Price:||Main courses £9-£11.Meal for two with drinks and service: around £35|
|Do you own this business?|
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Average User Rating
2.8 / 5
- 5 star:3
- 4 star:10
- 3 star:2
- 2 star:3
- 1 star:9
Tonkotsu, a small chain of authentic Japanese restaurants, is part of the new fast-casual concept in London that serves freshly made noodles.
Although the place was busy, my companion and I were fortunate to be seated very quickly at a shared low bench table; almost reminiscent of eating in a tightly packed school canteen.
The menu comprised of just five flavours of Ramen; Chilli Chicken, Tonkotsu, Curry, Seafood and Tokyo. Along with this were four choices of dumplings known as Gyoza; Chicken, Shitake, Prawn and Pork as well as a handful of sides to choose from.
I began with the Curried Pumpkin & Spiced Corn Ramen. Although my Ramen had a generous amount of vegetables including corn, roasted squash and peppers, I felt that it lacked in flavour and was slightly bland. Perhaps I was being overly critical, as I compared it to the Miso and Shimeji Ramen that I would normally order which unfortunately had been removed from the menu.
My companion had the Tonkotsu which he described as the “porkiest” flavoursome broth that was intensely flavoursome.
Alongside this we shared dainty savoury moon-shaped parcels of Prawn Gyoza; a perfect snacking in between sips of our ramen.
This place does not take bookings and gets very busy but the service is fast and efficient. The queues are long and you will be seated feeling as if you’ve been squeezed like sardines but I suppose that’s all part of the ambiance. Noodles are priced at £9-11 and the portions are generous. On these cold winter nights, a bowl of ramen is sure to warm your soul.
A great ramen place in the heart of Soho! They make the noodles in-house and all the options they serve (yes I've tried them all) taste amazing, from the light vegetarian one to the heavy Tonkotsu Ramen with super fat but oh-so-good pork broth. Although in the middle of a touristic area, the prices remain very reasonable and the staff is lovely - A good way not to be scammed!
I came on Time Out to review Tonkotsu and was really surprised to see such a low rating! I really enjoyed my visit and thought the ramen tasted great. I have been known to think ramen is a little creamy and strong in the past but I thought these broths were the perfect balance. I will definitely be returning for a cheap quick meal when around Soho.
I have lost count of how many times I have eaten here to be honest. Always a great ramen, and good service. And that Eat The Bits chilli oil.. I eat it by the spoonful!
Very disappointing. The vegetarian ramen was tasteless and I couldn't even bring myself to eat it past the third or fourth bite. The vegetarian gyozas were also sloppy. My partner ordered pork ramen and gyoza and like some other commenters mentioned, the broth was very thick and fatty, and she felt very sick later. The pork ramen was also left almost full. I don't even think that they should have taken our money, but there were no questions asked to see how we find the food. I would definitely not recommend. For me, the best ramen can be found at Ippudo.
I agree with some of the other reviews, this is probably not the most authentic ramen there is and the broth was slightly too thick for my taste. But if you are not being Japanese purists, the food was totally eatable and the service lovely and attentive despite having a full house and some rude costumers sitting on a nearby table. Not horrible, but there are definitely better options for ramen in this city.
I'm from Japan and believe I can comment well. This restaurant needs to learn how to make ramen property or close ASAP to avoid making too many people unhappy with their skill.
I have been twice now and really enjoyed the ramen - better than I can remember anywhere else in London and would therefore highly recommend it. Would agree that the Gyoza are dry and a bit anaemic which is a let-down and loses it a star but as you can order extra noodles and egg it gets one back!
Not quite sure where all the posters below were eating but I suspect there are some other noodle bars in Soho which are jealous of this great little place. The food I had was wonderful. The noodles were authentic and the stock was think creamy and incredible. Ignore the haters, well worth the visit.
You know you're in trouble when you can sip the soup from the bowl straight away. It just wasn't hot enough, heat wise which is a terrible mistake. For £11 you really expect something special which this is not. I went once and when asked if I would recommend it, I'm afraid its a "No" from me.
Food was ok, tonkatsu stock was the best. Everything else mediocre. Service- disorganised and particularly rude at times, we requested a soup be shared between two bowls for our young children and were told that the chef was too busy to do this for us so we had to do this ourselves unceremoniously at the table (the restaurant was far from busy at 5.30pm). Will be going to the more authentic place around the corner in future as style seems to have overtaken substance,
I was so excited to try this place but was disappointed with the pork ramen. The broth tasted too fatty and I felt sick afterwards. Overrated and a bit of a rip off to be honest. I was more satisfied with a packet of tonkotsu pork instant noodles and at a cheaper price.
I’m Japanese and completely agree with your posts. Any Japanese would declare it as the worst tonkotsu they’ve ever tasted. It’s probably not worth to be called ‘tonkotsu’. Noodle was wrong. It should be thin and straight but very very crunchy. They instead used cheap one which was powdery when I started eating (undercooked) and meltingly soft by the end of meal (overcooked). Not the type for any soup noodle. Soup was wrong. Thin and bland as others already mentioned, and miles away from the gutty muscular heavenly soup which we expect in real tonkotsu stock. It tasted like they tried to mimic that by mixing commercial seasonings but failed. Karaage (deep-fried chicken) was made of tiny poor quality meat and excessive volume of breading around that. It tasted like I was eating deep-fried liver. Thank goodness the meat size was really small. Gyoza (fried dumpling) again came with very tiny filling. Together with the lack of texture and seasoning it tasted like there was no filling at all. One thing I want to comment is on the post below saying gyoza pieces came stuck together. This probably refers to the single crispy sheet-shape breading attached on top of 5 pieces. This is not common (first time I’ve seen in London) but possible and we call it Hane in Japanese (=wing). The purpose was to trap the meat juice escaped from inside the dumpling during the cooking, but in this particular case I suspect this rare method was used to hide the tiny filling and make the gyoza look bigger. Considering all the quality comments here, this place will not last long.
terrible ramen, noodle from the package and underwhelming soup stock. Order gyoza which came all 5 pieces stuck together in a lump, sent it back and staff argued that it is how gyoza are! astonishing. They fried another batch, which is exactly the same as before.
This place is a joke. Anyone with anything resembling a palate will walk away disappointed. The pot filled with bones out front misguided me into thinking the stock would be good - it was not. Thin, over-salted, lacking depth and complexity. The ramen was mediocre, with a texture that hinted at an origin in a supermarket. The pork belly was obviously thrown in straight from the fridge. The overall serving size was pathetically small. For £9, I'd rather go to Wong Kee in Chinatown for a bowl of noodles and give the remaining £5 to charity.
Agree with the poster above. This is not a great bowl of ramen. Very greasy stock that lacked any real flavour. And the gyoza was a total disappointment as well.
Really yummy - I had the pork gyoza, which were so delicious it was a struggle not to order seconds. The Tokyo spicy ramen was true to its name, also very tasty although the noodles themselves were nothing special. I think I've been spoilt by Koya in that department! I must also give special mention to the friendly, attentive staff and the very tempting and comprehensive beer list (as I was having lunch on a work day I resisted).
I do not normally post a review, but I feel I have to for Tonkotsu after having paid £11 for the worst ramen I have ever tasted in my life! I quite like katsu sando in Tsuru and when I heard the same owners had opened a ramen restaurant in Soho, I was pretty excited. I was already disappointed when pork gyoza arrived almost cold. Ok, these things do happen and the polite waiter brought a hot replacement pretty quickly. Ordinary gyoza, but harmless. However, the real problems started when ramen arrived. The broth was like water and noodles were like those out of pot noodles! I honestly do not understand how they can charge £11 for this rubbish. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.