Piri Piri Tonkotsu Ramen – Shoryu, Soho

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A couple of weeks back, had the opportunity to run some errands before having to fly up north for work. Seeing I’m in the Soho area, thought I pop by Shoryu to check out their tonkotsu ramen.

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Shoryu¬†is the sister ramen bar of the Japan Centre which recently relocated to Piccadilly Circus, just round the corner from the Shoryu on Denman Street. In fact, after having my ramen, I pop by Japan Centre to check things out and was very impressed by their range of sushi available for takeaway. Dragged the Boom the very same week to grab some for dinner. That pig out is a story for another day ūüôā

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I was very tempted to crush some garlic onto my ramen but got lazy as the entire bulb is still intact. Didn’t want to stink up my fellow passenger on the flight.

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Apart from ramen, Shoryu offers various other items from yakitori, yakimono, sushi, sashimi and a huge selection of sides and drinks. Was torn between the singature Shoryu Ganso or the Piri Piri Tonkotsu but ultimately settled on the spicy option.

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Overall, I was not really impressed by this ramen. The broth though creamy is not as rich and porky as I would like it to be. The noodles had a good bite initially but turned soft when I got to the bottom of the bowl. I could not discern much Piri Piri apart from the few slices of jalapeno peppers garnish. Being not a big fan of ginger in general, I should have pushed aside the generous sprinkling of pickled ginger as crunching on slivers of piquant ginger with every noodle bite was rather jarring.

An average and forgettable bowl at £11.90, perhaps I should give it another try before I pass the final verdict.

Shoryu
3 Denman Street
London W1D 7HA
* They don’t do reservations, walk-ins only

Homemade Ramen Burger – Chez Boom

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With the recent trend of hybrid foods like duffins and cronuts making the news, the one that took my fancy is the Ramen Burger. Seeing that Go Ramen! is really making a name for himself with it, thought I give it a try to see if the hype is of any substance.

The idea of using ramen noodles to form the bun of a burger is not rocket science. Back when I was in Singapore (Yes, back when policeman wear shorts!), Mos Burger, a Japanese burger chain already has a burger with a bun made from compressed sticky rice. Without stretching the imagination too much, it’s called a rice burger and is fairly popular amongst the rice eating population of Singapore. Yo! Sushi had a similar limited edition rice burger as well!

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After reading a couple of how-to articles, this was what I’ve done. First, cook the noodles as per instructions. I thought the bacon flavoured Bachelor’s Super Noodles will work well since it’s a burger. I know that the Bachelor’s noodles soaks up loads of water and is of a mushy consistency which will only help when it comes to forming the burger bun.

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Gooey mixture after adding 2 beaten egg as binding agent. Make sure the noodles have cooled down before mixing the egg or the egg might scrambled.

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2 packet of noodles into 4 portions. 2 buns for each burger. I used a mixture of tapas ramekin and cookie ring. Any round shaped container will work fine. I lined the base of the container with cling film to help with removing the noodle bun.

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Fold over cling film and weigh it slightly to help the bun firm up. Tuna tins were perfect as they are the correct size and not too heavy that it will sink into the mixture. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to chill and firm.

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Pan fry the noodle bun. Make sure you use a non-stick pan and do not turn the bun over till you are sure the bottom is well browned.

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Like this! A couple of heart stopping moment while trying to flip the bun.

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Made up burger. The rest of the burger were made up of typical ingredients, stored bought burger patty, caramelised onions, Kewpie mayo (keeping it Japanese), gherkin, raw chopped onions, sliced tomatoes etc….

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So how was the experiment, was it worth it? Taste wise, the noodle bun is slightly crispy on the outside and slightly mushy/chewy on the inside, much like the consistency of an okonomiyaki batter. Surprisingly, you can’t taste the strands of the noodles after pan frying. The bacon flavour of the noodles added a smoky taste overall and perhaps a better quality noodle odd to be used so it still retains the ramen identity.

The Boom was all carbed out after the burger and oven fries. He agreed with me that this was a fun experiment but overall just a fad.

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7
Strictly by invitation

Pork Tonkotsu Ramen and Chicken Teriyaki Donburi – Japanese Canteen, Middlesex Street

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Junk is capable of healthy activities apart from those conducted in pubs. Yesterday’s outing was case in point. Bought a couple of vouchers for African Drumming class after work and had to look for something quick to eat for dinner. Most of the dinner places around the Spitalfields area are sit down, big menu, slightly long drawn out affairs unless one resorts to pub grub. Luckily, I found this place.

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Japanese Canteen is another Jap food chain catering mostly to the lunch crowd. But this branch at Middlesex Street, a stone throw away from Spitalfields also serves dinner. It was rather empty when we were there and it’s perfect for a quick eat and run dinner. I think this branch is rather new as it was not there when I was working in the area less then a year back.

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The menu is extensive and one can chose between donburi, bento box, ramen, sushi with a couple of non Japanese options like bibimbap,¬†gua bao and even Dan Dan noodles. Prices are very reasonable and definitely won’t break the bank!

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As expected, I could not resist any soupy noodles on a menu and seeing that the ramen is freshly made and they have a tonkotsu soup base, I’m sold! The Tweet being his usual boring self, went with the mundane option of Chicken Teriyaki Donburi. *Yawn* To each his own I guess. Total bill came to ¬£11.40, good deal on paper.

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So is the deal as good taste wise? The Tweet was not impressed by his Chicken Teriyaki Donburi and neither am I. The chicken pieces according to the menu were supposed to be grilled but we could not see scorched marks nor taste any smokiness. Worse yet, the chook was tough and dry! The teriyaki sauce was typical, sweet, savoury and sticky while Tweet thinks the rice is too mushy. With just a sprinkling of spring onion as garnish, we both think this dish needs some other taste sensation. I had to donate all of my bok choy to Tweet to make his meal more enjoyable.

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What about the more complicated ramen dish? At ¬£5.95, I was not expecting much from the Pork Tonkotsu Ramen especially when I was disappointing by the much hyped Tonkotsu in Soho at more than double the price. One should not underestimate chain outlets I’d say, like the offering at Wagamama, I was impressed!

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The toppings were generous with beansprouts, half a boiled egg, menma, nori, bok choy, spinach and 2 cuts of pork. The thinly sliced pork belly was tender but would be better if they were grilled while the shredded slow cooked pork was great soaked in a slight sweet and smoky sauce. The freshly made ramen could be cooked less but I’ve always prefer my noodles with bite. The star of the dish has to be the broth! Rich, milky with a slight hint of porkiness, just right and not too overpowering. The slight sheen of pork fat with a slight sweet and savoury taste complimented everything¬†exceptionally well. The Tweet asked whether it was a 2 thumbs up and I violently nodded my head.

I have tried another branch of Japanese Canteen awhile back and I was not impressed. After this experience, I will definitely locate another branch near me to be my staple for lunch!

Japanese Canteen
100 Middlesex Street
London E1 7EZ

Seafood Ramen – Taro Takeaway, Cannon Street

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Summer is finally here in Borisstan! Took a walk across the bridge to check out this small Japanese takeaway place I spied in my wanderings. Would seem like Taro Takeaway is a spin off from two restaurants but somehow it’s not mentioned in their official website.

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Located diagonally across the Kruger outlet on Cannon Street which I have yet to try, Taro is a small little shop catering mostly to the takeaway crowd. It does have a couple of small tables which you can eat in but to be avoided during lunch as the place will be filled with customers waiting for their takeaway order to be made.

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The menu is pretty extensive for a small place with donburi, ramen and fried noodles, bento boxes, chahan and assortment of sushi and salads. You pickup sushi and salads, basically anything cold from the fridge, while orders are placed at the cashier for the hot items and cooked on demand. The open kitchen is right behind the cashiers and you can see your food being cooked thus can be sure it’s fresh!

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As per my usual self, it’s a two course lunch for me and I decided on the Seafood Ramen at ¬£5.90 and the Wonder Roll for ¬£3.50. Was wondering which rolls I should get and I guess I got suckered by the word “Wonder”.

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So how “Wonder” are the rolls? To be honest, it was not that wonderful as they were just your plain old California Roll with extra tobiko and teriyaki sauce topping. The rolls themselves were fine, the filling was generous and the extra tobiko gave the salty bursts and adds interest to the rolls. My issue is with the teriyaki sauce, sweet, sticky and rich, totally unnecessary, taking the freshness from the rolls.

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Looking at the menu, I had the option to make the ramen spicy which I did. It’s either I have a bulletproof mouth but more likely, I think the cook forgot to add spice to my order. As mentioned before, I got to see the cook put together my ramen. The noodles are boiled on the spot and not pre cooked like many other places. Next he adds a generous portion of shredded carrots, beansprouts and sliced spring onions. Lastly, he topped the container with soup, added some pan fried mixed seafood and added a final topping of beni shoga.

Overall, the noodles were ok, the soup was savoury and rich, portion was generous. I would have exchanged a smaller portion of seafood for bigger pieces.¬†If I’m desperate and up for a stroll across the bridge, I will try it again. But then again, I might feel differently about their other offerings? Chicken Katsu Curry Rice anyone?

Taro Takeaway
44A Cannon Street
London EC4N 6JJ
0207 236 0399

Curry Laksa – Hare and Tortoise, Blackfriars

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After spending a couple of years in the Continent and getting my fill of the various types of European cuisine, I find myself starting to crave for the common fare readily available in my home country. Laksa was a much craved after item. When I moved to London, was¬†ecstatic when the Asian restaurant around the corner from me have a version of Curry Laksa! From that day onwards, I order nothing else but Curry Laksa whenever I visit Hare and Tortoise. The Boom might tease me for this but I don’t care! To me, nothing else in the menu interest me.

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I have since moved away from where I first lived in London but am glad there is a Hare and Tortoise branch just across the river from where I’m working. The Boom gladly came along as though he is not addicted to the Curry Laksa like yours truly, he has another dish which he can’t help but ordering. Pot and kettle…

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If you are intending to pay the Blackfriars branch a visit for lunch, do go before 1pm and try to avoid Fridays as they tend to be pretty crowded. Having said that, we never had to wait long for a seat even when there is a queue. Some pictures of the menu above and below. Nice pictures to give you an idea of what you are ordering.

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The menu is mostly filled with Japanese options with sushi, tempura and donburi. But they also have some South East Asian options like my Curry Laksa, Char Kuey Tiew and Curry Chicken with Rice. The Curry Laksa is £7.10 which I believe have gone up in price since I first tried it back in the day. Not surprising I guess.

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The topping and noodles of the laksa as always is more than generous. You get 3 big slices each of chicken breast, prawns, squid, naruto and fried beancurd. Big bunch of beansprouts and sliced cucumber adds crunch to the thin rice noodles. The all important gravy made with the typical spices and heavy on coconut milk is rich and creamy. Scattered throughout were curry leaves which somehow I don’t think adds much but perhaps their taste have been leeched into the gravy.

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I think the portion and ingredients is well worth the £7.10. Another dish I would highly recommend is the Miso Ramen while Boom swears by the Char Kuey Tiew as well as the Curry Chicken with Rice.

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Hare and Tortoise
90 New Bridge Road
London EC4V 6JJ
0207 651 0266

Maryland Buttermilk Chicken Burger and Samurai Fries – The Drift, Bishopsgate

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Today’s lunch venue was purely a result of assumption. Assume = makes an ASS out of U not ME. Well, one of my favourite sayings came back to haunt me today!

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Was suppose to have lunch at The Slug and Lettuce between my office and Boom’s as I have a 25% discount food voucher if I use my new contactless debit card.¬†Unbeknownst¬†to me, the branch I chose is right smack in front of the Gherkin and was jammed packed came lunch time. Not wanting to fall back on high street chains, the Boom and I decided to give The Drift at the Heron Tower a try.

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I have been to The Drift’s sister bar The Folly on it’s opening bash and was impressed by the party thrown with free food and drinks for about 3 hours. I got pretty smashed that night if I recall but have not been back since. Another thing that left an impression was The Folly was refreshingly decorated with a shabby chic vibe, homely but ever so slightly opulent. Compared to her sister, The Drift has a more utilitarian decor but still impressive nonetheless.

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The main eating area is on the upper floor which has views into the open kitchen. View from the upper floor to the bar area is pretty impressive as well.

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Had a moment of indecision after checking out the menu. Should I go for an Asian style salad or should I go for something else. The one thing that caught my eye was the Maryland Buttermilk Chicken Burger and with Boom and the waitress breathing down my neck to get my orders in, I committed. Also shared a side of Samurai Fries with Boom which was ample for the two of us as the Boom lashed out on a double cheeseburger. Final bill with 2 pints of soft drinks came close to ¬£40! Well, I’m not complaining as I’m not paying!

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Was disappointed with the Samurai Fries as I was expecting the katsu curry sauce to be served on the side. It would seem that the fries are tossed with the sauce prior service. The thin coat of sauce was neither here nor there, I wouldn’t have known if not told. I can understand the fries will be soggy if too much sauce was added but at least serve some of the sauce on the side. At ¬£4.25, the portion size was ok, but still feel it’s a tad on the steep side.

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So did my Buttermilk Chicken lived up to the expectation? Unfortunately not! The batter was nice and crispy and kudos to the chief that it was not oily and the chicken breast was not dry. The problem was the batter seriously lacked seasoning! I can’t taste the tartness of the buttermilk at all and it was totally bland. I think someone forgot the salt, let alone the ¬†herbs and spices I was expecting. The pitiful squirt of¬†mayonnaise on the buns did not remedy the failure and I had to resort to ketchup to save the day. The saving grace was the nicely toasted brioche bun but still not worth ¬£9.95.

In all, I think it’s all style but no substance. Nice enough place for a pint or some cocktail but don’t count on the food.

The Drift
Heron Tower
110 Bishopsgate
London EC2N 4AY
0845 468 0103

Chicken Okonomiyaki and Salmon Soumen – Wasabi, St Pauls

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So the weather was nice last week and being a tad bored at work, lured the Boom out for lunch. Knew he was probably suffering from a hangover from a drinking bash with his ex-colleagues the night before and thus would love the distraction.

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After some discussion, decided to meet up at Wasabi at Paternoster Row near St Paul’s¬†Cathedral. We have both tried making our own version of okonimiyaki the past couple of weeks and want to try Wasabi’s version to see how well we fared.

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This Wasabi outlet is a bit different from others in that it also has a Hot Plate Station where they make okonimiyaki, yakisoba and omsoba. I have tried both the okonomiyaki and omsoba previously but that was a while back.

I got the chicken okonomiyaki which cost £4.95 while Boom got the seafood version which was £1 more. In line with my 2 course lunches, also added a Salmon Soumen to my order which at £2.95 is a rather good deal! With a bottle of green tea at £1.95, grand total was £9.85.

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So how was the pancake? Was it as good as our homemade version? Though it was filled with cabbage, I think the batter is missing the starch component which will give the pancake a slight sticky consistency. The Boom was very happy with the amount of seafood in his pancake while I was slightly disappointed with the few bits of chicken breast in my. Overall, the portion was very generous and we were overwhelmed after 3/4 way through the pancake, the sweet teriyaki sauce did not help the situation.

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I really enjoyed the Salmon Soumen though, the rice noodles in a light but tasty broth with bits of salmon and fresh veg was a good contrast with the rich pancake. At £2.95, it works perfectly as a side dish to any of the main meals at Wasabi. I will definitely be back for more in future.

Wasabi
Unit 6 St Martin’s Court
Paternoster Row
London EC4M 7EJ