After reviewing on Ittenabri (https://chechemui.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/ittenbari/), here is another London Soho ramen review and this time it is Tonkotsu. The words of this place has been going around before it has even open due to the power of the world wide web. Although, it does not officially open until the beginning of July, I was lucky to find out that they were doing a soft launch in June, and where there is an opportunity then I will try to be there.
Both Ittenbari and Tonkotsu are based on London Soho area, but Tonkotsu is located on Dean Street which is just a street right next to the popular London udon restaurant – Koya (https://chechemui.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/koya/). As like Ittenbari, Tonkotsu has also occupy a two floored shop that from my memory used to be a Japanese restaurant.
When we arrived at Tonkotsu on a Friday night, it was already buzzing with people slurping their ramen soup. There was not really a queue and we were second in line. However, it did not take long for the queue to build up and by the time we left there were people sitting at the tables outside eating as well.
The deco at Tonkotsu reminded me of Koya with the rustic feel from the wooden tables and chairs. Some tables had artistic lamps hanging from the ceiling which went well with the overall design of the restaurant. Even the green tea served in this tin teapot for some reason gave me the feeling that I was sitting in Koya. But instead of udon it was eating ramen.
Just like Ittenbari the ramen kitchen is located just when you come from the front door. But the different is that when I walked in to Ittenbari the chefs will shout the familiar welcome greeting “irasshaimase” which gives the feeling you are in Japan. Maybe when Tonkotsu officially open we might hear that famous welcome Japanese phrase to bring you in to the land of Japan.
The menu was on a two side A4 paper, with one side offering a range of drinks and another side offering the range of food available.
There are two ramen option to select, either Tonkotsu (£11) or the vegetarian option, Miso and Shimei mushroom ramen (£9). We ordered one of each, where I took the vegetarian ramen. This was ramen in miso soup which contained bamboo shoots, shimei mushroom, greens and half egg. Personally I found that for a miso soup base it lacked flavour, when I expected it to be more rich.
For the traditional Japanese ramen then Tonkotsu is the option to choose, where it contains sliced pork, half egg and vegetable. It was beautifully presented as was my vegetarian option. Although the soup might not be as rich as Ittenbari, the ramen seem to be a better texture.
Apart from the ramen, there are small dishes which can be ordered as a side or as an starter. This includes a range of gyoza with a selection of different filling – pork, prawn and pork or a vegetarian option. We choice the prawn and pork gyoza (£5) which came with six in a portion. When our gyoza arrived at our table, my first impression of the presentation was it looked liked paper-wrapped gyoza. Although it was bland, it tasted fresh.
Our second small dish that we ordered was the chicken karaange which is a Japanese deep fried chicken. It was fried beautifully with a hint of ginger taste. The chicken was smooth and not too dry which is how I prefer mine to be cooked, but I was questioning whether maybe a small part of each chicken was a little bit under cooked.
As it was a soft launch all food, apart from drinks was 50% off. The discounted price I felt was a more reasonable price to pay for a bowl of ramen, as looking at £11 for a Tonkotsu ramen it did make me think that it seem fairly pricey.
The service was friendly and we felt welcome, although I could see that it was a soft launch since the restaurant was still getting to grip with everything and trying to find the correct balance. Although, I do feel there is room for improvement in the food, it would be a place I could return to again. But in comparison with Ittenbari, then Tonkotsu only comes second. Ittenbari still in my book is in first place for its overall ramen and the variety option such as adding a bowl of rice, as well as being at a reasonable price.
Tonkotsu Bar And Ramen
63 Dean Street