So. This may not come as a huge surprise given that I am of Asian stock. But here goes anyway: I am a COMPLETE noodles fiend. One of my first childhood memories involves learning to use chopsticks. (I know, stereotype alert). I have fond memories of big bowls of soupy silver needle noodles (lo shi fun) and plates piled high with flat rice noodles (char kway teow and hor fun) in Malaysia, my mum making fried vermicelli (mee hoon goreng) for us at home in London, and sitting in train stations gobbling down tempura-studded udon and soba in Japan. Meanwhile, I basically subsisted on ramen for the duration of my university years. I have a particular knee-melting weakness for Japanese bone broth ramen, and over the past year and half I've made many a slurpy pilgrimage to the wonderful Bone Daddies in Soho.
A has been extremely busy these past few months, but I finally dragged him away from Sibelius one evening, meeting him after work at Soho Theatre and hightailing it to Shoryu Ramen's Soho branch just around the corner from Piccadilly Circus tube station. Because noodle dates are the best dates. Basically, anything involving noodles is the best anything. If someone would be kind enough to open a dinosaur-themed restaurant that served kick-ass noodles, I'd pretty much be set for life.
But I digress. Shoryu don't take bookings (story of my life in Soho...) but since it was fairly late at night, we were shown straight to a table by a bandanna-festooned waitress.
Although we didn't order a lot, I was pleased by the fare at Shoryu. We kicked things off with a beautifully presented cucumber salad. I'd expected a small bowl of haphazardly thrown together cucumber and sesame seeds, but what we received was a row of upright jewel-like slices, sesame seeds and chilli flakes scattered over the top. Beautiful - and spicy.
We sipped tea poured from sweet little pots while we waited for our mains. Freshly cut lemongrass for me, green for him. Lemongrass tea always puts me in a super chilled mood - it reminds me of the East because I always order it when I go to the wonderful spas on holiday there.
I was most looking forward to trying the eponymous ramen, especially the tonkotsu (pork bone broth). I went for the Kotteri tonkotsu - extra rich, thick broth - and it was delicious. Beautifully seasoned slices of barbecue pork on top were unsettlingly cold to start with, but this was quickly forgotten as they warmed up in the hot soup. Seaweed and soft-boiled egg were a real treat, bringing some much-needed texture to the dish.
Alexander, spice maestro extraordinaire, chose the Karaka Tantan tonkotsu - spicy fried minced pork in white miso with extra garlic and chilli oil. His report was that it was spiced at just the right level (which probably means it was verging on the extra spicy for those of us who don't eat chilli with everything...)
I found that I was missing the corn and miso butter that features in my favourite Bone Daddies ramen, but Shoryu does seem more authentic and I loved my experience there. I would absolutely go back, especially given that they have three branches around central London. Hooray for noodles storming the London scene; I'll never be far from a fix now. I'm keen to explore this more, so if you've been to a particularly wonderful noodle place, please let this addict know so she can try it for herself!