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

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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

Chicken Ramen and Hosomaki Set – Deli Mama, Eastcheap

IMG-20130412-delimama_lunchA colleague from the US office was in town this week for work and I was asked to take a walk with him for lunch today. He had a couple of things he wanted to buy which took us across the river. Seeing we have made the trek, decided to go by my regular haunt when I was based out in Monument.

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Deli Mama is located around the corner from the Monument and is an independent Japanese/Korea takeaway joint ran by a team of Korean staff. There is a range of hot dishes which you can have with either rice or noodles at the steam tray counter.

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Or you can also pickup tubs of udon, ramen and a selection of bento boxes and sushi set from the fridge units. As you can see, the selection is pretty good and all pretty affordable.

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I decided on my old favourite which is the Chicken Ramen where I got the spicy broth added when paying at the counter. Also added a small box of Hosomaki Set. The ramen was £5.80 while the Hosomaki Set was £3.75.

IMG-20130412-delimama_chickenramenAs you can see, the noodles is not exactly ramen but more like the korean ramyun style instant noodles. Other condiments in the noodles includes bean sprouts, shredded carrot, big bunches of coriander and sliced up fried chicken breast. I highly recommend you top up the container to the brim with extra hot water as the spicy broth has a tendency to be pretty salty. perfect comfort food on cold wet days.

IMG-20130412-delimama_hosomakisetI really enjoyed the Hosomaki Set. There are 2 Gunkan style sushi, one topped with chopped salmon and mixed pickles while the other is with a smoked mackerel salad and fresh cucumber. The one in the middle is a inari pocket with tuna mayo and pickled ginger. The last two are normal nigiri with cooked prawn and fresh salmon. Strictly speaking, these are not Hosomaki as they are the small skinny rolls but I will let that rest since they were really fresh and tasty.

When the weather gets better, I will be sure to visit Deli Mama more often. The quality and price of the offering is worth the trek!

Deli Mama
2 Eastcheap
London EC3M 1AA

Pork Ramen – Wagamama, Clink Street, London Bridge

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Today’s post might not to everyone’s liking since I’m going to blog about a High Street joint. There is a Wagamama just around the corner from work and I was starving and craving for something nice and warming. Sorry if you’d thought I sold out.

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With the recent ramen craze sweeping major cities around the world, London is in on the act as well. Recent openings like Tonkotsu, Ittenbari, Bone Daddies and Shoryu were all blogged to death by regular food blogs. I did try out Tonkotsu with high hopes but sadly they were dashed beyond oblivion. Understand that Wagamama revamped their menu slightly to jump on the ramen bandwagon so thought why not give it a chance?

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Decided to go with the Pork Ramen seeing it’s supposedly new on the menu. Also gave myself a treat with a side order of Tori Kaarage, for those of you not in the know, tori = bird in Japanese, i.e. Chicken Kaarage. Also added some sliced red chilies as I can’t live without heat! The ramen was ¬£8.50, the kaarage was ¬£4.85 while the sliced chilies were ¬£0.70. All in lunch was ¬£14.10. Service was not included and since the servers were all very attentive, I dropped ¬£16 when the bill came. Junk deserves a treat sometimes.

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I was glad I gave this a go! The Tori Kaarage had a very crispy and well seasoned coating of batter which has seaweed mixed into it. Unlike most places, the kaarage were truly bite size pieces, like the popcorn chicken from KFC. While the size is convenient for popping into your mouth, I think there is a higher tendency for some pieces to be dry as the size means the moisture in the meat is more exposed to the heat. The dipping sauce that came with it complimented the kaarage well, a mix of soy sauce with some chili and garlic. Recommend that you squeeze some of the lime juice into the dipping sauce to give it a tangy edge.

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On to the Pork Ramen. Ok, I really pimped this up with the chili oil and shichimi togarashi provided. On hindsight, I could have saved £0.70 for the sliced chili since the complimentary condiments gave me the heat I wanted. Pimping aside, the miso and chicken broth was deep but not too coying, the noodles had a nice bite while still maintaining the fresh ramen texture, the menma, wakame and pea shoots added some crunch while the half tea stained egg could be marinated a bit more. But the true delight of this dish has to be the barbecue pork belly slices! The portion was generous, the belly slices were tender with melt in your mouth fat yet has the smoky and charred flavour typical of a good searing. Thought I died and gone to heaven.

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So in all, Junk was a very satisfied customer. Two thumbs up!

Wagamama
1 Clink Street
London SE1 9BU
0207 403 3659