Ramen, glorious ramen!
Was lucky enough to get my fix this week in Soho, escorted by the fabulous Dr. Chung. If you think ramen is just cheap flavourless student food, stop that right now. I hope this post changes your mind for good! I had my first proper ramen a few weeks ago at Butao in Hong Kong under Steph's recommendation (the place is incredible - check out her description). Been hooked on the stuff ever since.
As this ramen outing coincided with our half birthdays, Chung and I decided that drinks were very much in order - hence our liquid starters included a lemongrass and ginger martini and a yuzu mojito, both nicely tangy if a bit sweet.
Back on the solids, we shared some edamame, wakame seaweed salad, and tiger prawn tempura. I'm a bit bored with edamame these days, but this one was actually quite interesting, covered in a generous amount of yuzu salt. Yuzu is a type of orange/grapefruit with an intensely fresh citrus flavour - it worked well. The wakame had the perfect amount of crunch and good a saltiness/sesame oil ratio, whilst the tempura prawns were light and crispy with no oily aftertaste. The daikon alongside complemented them well.
Now for the thick and noodley of it - the ramen. All of the ramen here have a lot going on, and as standard come with rich pork broth, bbq pork slices (char siu), nitamago egg (half-cooked in soy? and sake), kikurage mushrooms (think undulating chewy shreds with a nutty-like flavour), spring onions, ginger, sesame, nori sheets, and mayu (caramelised black garlic oil). It must take hours of cooking to get all the components at their peak.
On top of all that, you're presented with a further choice of flavour. Having enjoyed the steady stream of yuzu tonight, I decided on the yuzu tonkotsu, a spicy ramen with a yuzu pepper chutney in place of the ginger for an added kick, along with a side of kimchi to really spice things up. This really was scrumptious and the textures were spectacular- the richness of the broth, the juiciness of the char siu, the bite of the mushroom shreds all entwined in a delicious mesh of fresh ramen. (ok - this is why I'm not a poet, but trust me, this was SO GOOD, and but possibly missed the incredibly high benchmark set by Butao in Hong Kong). I wish the yuzu chutney was a bit more front and centre as I thought it could do with more spiciness, but the kimchi helped sort that out.
Chung went for the Kotteri Hakata Tonkotsu ramen, which featured a richer, thicker, fattier [sic] pork broth on top of the classic ingredients. He found the broth very warming, as evidenced by his rosy cheeks. His final verdict: eat this!
Stuffed with food, a liquid dessert came in the form of sake alongside a pint of draught Kirin. Though fun, the sake was pretty tasteless and felt diluted (I even forgot the name of it), but the beer was refreshing.
Come to Shoryu for the food, and get hooked on ramen! Forget that an instant version exists. I'd say leave the drinks though unless its a major occasion, i.e. two half birthdays! ;) The drinks weren't great value nor that special.
Happy ramen hunting!