first london post of the new (academic) year! the first week of school has come and gone, and i’m pleased because i had an extremely foodful week. the fact that i’m now in final year has definitely fuelled this food frenzy to try out as many new places and try as many things on their menus as possible 😛 guilt is starting to settle in though, because it was definitely far from being as fruitful on other fronts (which may or may not include readings)… need to get back into school mode pronto! #newweeksresolution
i had heard lots of good things about and seen good pics of one of london’s newest ramen shops while home in singapore for the summer, so jumped at the chance to check it out last tuesday night when my friends and i were craving some oodles of noodles. the choice of dinner venue was between koya (tried and tested, guaranteed satisfaction) and kanada-ya (new and exciting), and i’m glad we went with the latter because we were not disappointed! arrived just slightly past 6.30pm on a weekday evening and we were greeted with this queue before us:
undeterred, we hopped into line. it helped that almost everyone both in the queue and in the shop was asian and the majority were japanese actually – a sure sign of the shop’s credibility 😉 some menus were handed down the line to keep patrons occupied while they waited, but the menu isn’t very extensive at all so like us, you’ll probably make your choice before the queue even moves an inch.
it took us about 45 minutes to be seated at a table for four so it was great that the food came pretty quickly once we filled in and submitted our order sheets. we each got an original ramen with an egg added, and also ordered a serving of original onigiri for the table to share.
the onigiri came swiftly:
plain onigiri – £2.50 for 2 pieces
unfortunately, we were sorely disappointed by the onigiri. it was literally just plain japanese rice moulded into the classic onigiri shape and placed atop a sheet of seaweed. i suppose when the menu described it as plain, they really meant that it would be completely plain… we suspected that they’d be a letdown once we saw them brought to our table, but still clung on to some hope that there’d be some sort of seasoning in the rice. alas, we were wrong and even sprinkling some sesame on top couldn’t save them. we certainly weren’t expecting any toppings, but all agreed that we had imagined at least some japanese spices or flakes of some sort sprinkled over the top. many of their japanese patrons seemed to be ordering the onigiri though, so maybe this is actually the traditional and legit stuff, just not what we’re used to. the ones with plum or salmon are probably more appetising; maybe (just maybe) i’ll give them a try when i return.
thank goodness the ramen arrived before us hot on the heels of the onigiri, so we didn’t have much time to feel despondent about our poor rice ball choice. it could have been that our expectations were slightly lowered because of the onigiri (but i doubt so), but we all thought the ramen was very very good, so satisfied was one of my friends that she declared it the best ramen in london at the moment, and i concur.
original ramen with hanjuku egg – £10 + £1.80
the super tasty soup is an 18 hour pork bone broth; the thickness and milky porkiness of it is testament to its very lengthy cooking time, and will leave you wanting to slurp up every last drop of it. what i liked most about the broth was that it was very satisfying, but not heavy. as for the chashu pork belly, it was perfectly seasoned and cooked and so tender that it was very nearly worthy of being described as melt-in-your-mouth goodness. very very nearly. as for the noodles, like ippudo, you can choose how well you want them to be cooked. i always prefer my noodles firm so i opted for the hard, and was not disappointed – they retained a great bite even after sitting in the soup for a while, far from turning into fat mushy strands. and now coming to my favourite part of the bowl… the egg (nothing new there)! i would definitely recommend adding an egg (or two) to your ramen. at £1.80 it does seem pricey but i thought it was worth it. after all, its not every day that you come across such a perfectly cooked and seasoned onsen egg. just look at the bright orange yolk and its wonderful consistency – still wet but not running all over the place and into the soup! besides the yolk, the white was also very well seasoned and i finished my 2 halves wishing i had another two to finish. or four. or more. 😛 will seriously consider ordering 2 eggs when i return! our bellies were happy and as we were making our way through the big bowls, we were already imagining how perfect it would be to have this soupy goodness to warm our chilled souls in the dead of winter when its freezing outside.
on top of the great food, service is friendly, fast and quite efficient. the shop itself is cosy and does not have a large seating capacity at all, so be prepared to queue when you visit. we all agreed that it was better than bone daddies and shoryu which made the wait to get a table worth it; hopefully you’ll feel the same way too!
next ramen conquest: ippudo london, which is opening right opposite kanada-ya (ooooh competition). london be upping its ramen game and i’m not complaining 😉