Despite the fact that I live in London , i don’t remember when was the last time that I stood in Piccadilly circus waiting for friends. That is , of course, before last Friday night.
The West End, however, is an oddly familiar place which seems to be caught up in , what a dear friend has defined as a time warp and has not changed much since I was I first arrived to London (already 17 years ago).
Women and men still “dress up” to go to the musicals or for an evening drink and so do students queue endlessly outside the clubs that surround Leicester Square. People still sit on the stairs that surround the statue of Anteros and still call it Eros ; and foreigners still buy kitsch “made in China” memorabilia to take to their families.
I had forgotten how very amusing it all was.
The reason for the visit to the west end was a dinner with friends at the restaurant of a friend of my husband.
A few months ago he mentioned that he was looking to open a ramen restaurant and as I as looking for a place to catch up with a group of friends, it occurred to me that the restaurant could be a good choice for the ramen loving friends.
The restaurant is very well positioned in central London and has a simple authentic menu at a very reasonable price. (Specially when compared with the ramen restaurants in Soho and St Giles which seem to be able to charge 40/50% more to unsuspecting westerners.) Having said that, there were only Japanese people… ad us. This is good sign for the quality but leaves a question in the air re what Westerners look for.
There is no tacky decoration and no obvious Japanese looking displays, only the same sort of things you would find in a modern Japanese restaurant in cool Tokyo : simplicity and good food.
Agedashi Tofu : fried tofu on tempura sauce toped up with katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
We started with some playful cocktails that reinvented classics including gin and tea and Mary the geisha… All delicious and accompanied of course with a snack. (In Japan you do not serve drinks without a snack)… and shared some starters as there was too much to catch up on and needed time to get ready for the ramen.
Takoyaki: octopus balls
yaki gioza: grilled chicken dumplins
By the time we decided to order mains, each one of us felt inclined to taste something different: Steamed rice with chicken teriyaki one, Han charhan another and two times tonkotsu ramen. Each one of us was happy with their choice .
Han charhan: egg fried rice with charshu pork and spring onions (flavoured with the ramen soup sauce)
I loved this type of rice and could not resist tasting it. It was delicious , light and flavoursome.
Chicken teriyaki: pan fried chicken with teriyaki sauce
Tonkotsu ramen: Ramen with pork bone based broth
I generally prefer cold noodle soups or rice as they are easier for me to eat … I keep the hot ramen for home where i can make a mess and control the fat levels (my migraines need to be kept at bay and fat/fried up food seem to trigger then) but i think that i will soon be returning and testing the tonkotsu because my ramen fan friend informed me that this one is much less fatty than the one you can have at another well known place in London for tonkotsu.
Service was friendly and attentive and we had a wonderful evening without the need to break the bank . I am looking forward to my return already.
Photographs by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Text by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
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