We had initially intended to go to the famed Burger & Lobster for dinner. Owing, however, to the approximated 2 hour wait, we decided to adjourn somewhere else. My buddy Chor Hiang suggested this ramen place just off Wardour Street called Bone Daddies. With a name like Bone Daddies, my visiting friend from Oxford, Tong Hui and I were naturally highly suspicious. I mean what kind of F&B establishment calls itself Bone Daddies?!! After much thought though, I realised, much to my own dismay as well, there again, that what kind of blog is called rockabite, baby?? So cynicism unjustified, I guess: nomenclature is not fully representative and should not be used as a judging criterion. Any doubts that we initially had were eventually, and perhaps even conclusively, quelled when we saw the queue outside the restaurant. It was uber looooong. The queue extended beyond the entire corridor of the restaurant into that of the massage parlour next door. And that wasn’t it; there was another round of queuing inside. Madness, should have just gone back to Burger & Lobster eh. But seeing the number of people willing to queue in the cold dreary weather outside, we willed ourselves to brave the frostbites and got in line.
Tong Hui, who I must emphasise is of University of Oxford provenance, said that the soup of ramen – being made from boiling pork bone for more than 10 hours – increases one’s chances of getting cancer by 15% or something. *TOUCH WOOD* Seeing the people queuing outside and the people slurping sumptuously inside, I reckoned this was either a myth or that the ramen was so good it was worth the health risk! Not that it mattered, we were going in anyway.
Set up like a bar, with bar stools and not chairs, and with rock music playing in the background, Bones Daddies was conceptually as surprising as its name. Indeed this combination of such a setting with ramen was interesting. The queue inside was rather agonising, especially as we felt so close to the food yet still so far.
Making it worse was this party of 4 seated in front of us, who had finished their food but continued playing some lame numbers game. They were taking their own sweet time to leave; it was diabetes-inducing. And the clearing of tables for a turnover of customers was also pretty slow by the service staff. This made the wait painfully long, particularly when they give you the menu while you are standing in line.
After 15358230231051 years, we were led to our seats. First thing I noticed was that the layout of the tables was pretty cool. They had chilli oil, sesame seeds, chopsticks and this interesting garlic masher. I guess this gives people a choice if they want their garlics whole or mashed. Or to have their ramen completely without an excess garlic-y taste at all. The item that caught my attention the most was, however, the bottle with hair bands in it. I felt it was a nice and thoughtful touch as peeps with long hair often get their hair into the broth, making both the hair and broth disgusting.
Anyway we placed our orders and we each got the purportedly famous tonkatsu ramen. On the menu it was stated that the bones are boiled for 20 hours – which makes, assuming Tong Hui was not bs-ing, us doubly susceptible to cancer compared to the average ramen eater elsewhere! Anyhow, Chor Hiang, the friend who recommended this place, mentioned that the servings were a tad small. It was also suggested that we enhance the flavour of the broth with a topping of cock scratching (£0.80), whatever that was. I was undecided but after considerable scratching (of my head), however, I decided to stick with the tried and tested extra bean sprouts and an extra egg.
Alas the ramen arrived and it smelt great. Before we began eating, we saw this group of Caucasian ladies taking pictures of their food. Stereotype disproved! And I guess it also suggests something about the quality of the food there that others, and not just this food blogger extraordinaire, were keen to capture their palettes in photos.
On to the ramen. The bean sprouts were crunchy and juicy. The egg yolks were runny and viscous at the same time. Done almost to perfection! It was really rich in taste as well. And the texture of the yolk in your mouth – it just melts.
The serving of meat was decent, two big pieces that were thinly sliced with a nice decent amount of fat, making it supple and tasty without an overly swinish (yes, yes, I know it’s still pork, nonetheless) and oily taste. Looks sinful, I know; but if it’s healthful, chances are it won’t taste as nice!The broth was really thick. It was almost as though I was drinking a cream of ramen soup instead. I guess it was nice, and I doubt you can justify charging 3 quid for extra broth if it isn’t good! There was also a judicious amount of spring onions and radish slices in the broth. Some veggies to justify the indulgence. However, the radish taste was a bit overpowering and I think this may put some people off, especially if they’re not radish fans. The noodles themselves, though, were pretty average. No special taste or extra ‘bounce’ that other famous ramen restaurants profess to have.
Halfway through, I decided to add some chilli into the mix. I felt it enhanced the taste of the soup in a good way, giving the thick broth – which gets static in taste after almost an entire bowl – a bit of an extra kick. Not too much chilli though, it was rather spicy and may overwhelm one’s palette if too much is added.
It was funny that their bowls had a ‘thanks’ written at the bottom, almost as though they expected everyone to finish the broth to the last drop. Well, I did anyway and was amused by their sense of humour. The bowl of ramen was filling, unlike my friend had previously warned. Maybe it was the extra egg and bean sprouts.
On a side note though, what I had mentioned previously about the radish proved right too – my friend left all his radish untouched, citing the fact that it tasted strong and he didn’t really like radish. Perhaps they could consider doing something like the whole garlic pieces with radish as well?
Overall, it was really good ramen, the soup was really rich, perhaps a tad overly so for my liking. But the eggs were really appetising and the quirky combination of a bar setting and rock music with ramen was truly something original. Would I be back? Not if I had to endure another almost 2 hour wait, especially in the kind of cold we endured. However, for a tad under £15, it is a place that I would definitely recommend, at least once – for the entire experience (queuing aside) if not just the food. Is it, then, worth the repeated exposure to cancer risk? I think not.
31 Peter St,
London W1F 0AR