It’s in their Bones

Last weekend some old friends visited me in London. It seemed only right that I take them to a Japanese restaurant for Dinner, and I heard little protest.

I had a hankering for ramen, so I took them to the first Japanese restaurant I tried in London : Shoryu. This was my third visit to the Soho branch, and I was certainly not disappointed.

Like Ichiryu (as featured in my first blog ‘My Second Love‘) Shoryu was set up by the same team as the Japan Centre. It is a restaurant specialising in Hakata tonkotso Ramen. This is a rich, thick, white pork soup with thin ramen noodles from the Hakata district of Fukouka city in Japan.

Shoryu’s tagline ‘It’s in our bones’ refers to the method of making the pork stock. In my opinion, this base is the most important part of the ramen dish. Without good flavour in the stock, the dish can lack depth. Each pan at Shoryu boils for no less than 12 hours!

My first experience of ramen was in the heart of Tokyo. We had arranged to meet some friends in the centre. They took us along to a very basic looking restaurant. However, all was not as it seemed. Outside the entrance were two vending machines. After a brief moment of amazement we hesitantly put in some money. I punched a couple of buttons that seemed to be a soy based pork ramen and some gyoza. The machine then printed a little pink ticket. In typical Japanese efficiency, you simply waited for a seat in the busy restaurant, and handed your ticket to the chef at the bar. For around £6 we ate very well. Ramen is considerably more filling than it appears…you have been warned!

Unlike the dish in Shoryu, this one was a lighter, clear soy based stock. I think I prefer the (to quote a friend) ‘creamy but not creamy’ pork bone base. Back to London, the three of us ordered the ‘Shoryu Ganso Tonkotso’ (£11). This is the signature ramen pictured above. It is topped with dried nori seaweed, slices of pork belly, half a soft boiled egg, spring onions, kikurage mushrooms, ginger and sesame.

We decided to fill our table by also ordering pork buns, edamame, and pork gyoza. My favourite were the gyoza. They were perfectly crisp with deliciously seasoned meat inside. I’m hoping to go on a gyoza making class soon, and will of course keep you posted.

As a big fan of cocktails, I was delighted to see Shoryu has a new range for spring. I had the ‘Kaoru Lavender’, a gin based cocktail with cucumber, lime and lavender (bottom). My friends had the ‘Sakuranbo Bitter’ (left) and the ‘Murasaki Le Fizz’ (right). The last was my favourite, featuring sake, passion fruit and prosecco. We paid £11 for these. However, they have a happy hour Mon-Thurs when they drop to £6 each.

One of my friends had never tried ramen before, but I think it’s safe to say she was a convert. After all, who can resist a large warm bowl of delicious noodles? I know I certainly can’t. I look forward to my next (inevitable) visit to Shoryu.

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