My Top 5 Favourite Ramen Restaurants in London

I suppose, like many western people, I was first introduced to ramen in the form of instant noodles. Cheap packets of chicken flavoured noodles soon became my favourite. But it wasn’t until sometime in 2013 that I started to learn what real ramen was.

In the spring of 2014 I travelled to Japan for the very first time. I decided to prepare for the trip by eating Japanese food at restaurants around London. It was my way of preparing for what I thought would be three weeks of vegetarian food. I had no idea what kind of food people ate in Japan. It did not take long for my taste buds to align with mouthwatering authentic Japanese food in Japan.

Ramen before I went to Japan was a nice tasty noodle soup. I never put much thought into it. When I arrived in Japan and tasted authentic ramen for the first time, my taste buds were completely blown away. Never before had I tasted anything like it. The flavours of the noodles and especially the broth brought my tastes buds back to life. It was as if food was in black and white and then when I ate food in Japan, all food turned into variations of colour. After that first experience I spent the next three weeks in Japan looking for ramen shops. I did eat a variety of other Japanese dishes while I was there, but I have to say that Ramen became my favourite.

There are four main types of ramen

When I returned to London, I was on a quest to find the most authentic Japanese ramen restaurants in the city. In order to provide a rating system for my top 5 favourite list I have to first define the types of ramen. There are many types of ramen but the main variety is divided into four types.

  • Shio Ramen (salt) – it is a salt based soup usually combined with chicken or vegetable stock. The soup is also called broth.
  • Shoyu Ramen (soy) – it is a soup made from soy sauce and usually combined with seaweed, boiled egg, sliced onions and marinated bamboo shoots.
  • Miso Ramen – the soup is made with miso paste and chicken stock.
  • Tonkotsu Ramen (pork bone) – not to be mistaken with “tonkatsu (pork cutlet)” is a soup (broth) made by boiling pork bone and fat until a creamy soup is created. Some restaurants will boil their broth for up to 18 hours or longer.

Ramen Restaurants in London

After weeks and months of exploring and trying out many ramen restaurants in London I finally decided to compile a short list of some of my favourites. I expect this list will continue to evolve as I explore and try more restaurants in the city.

Ten Ten Tei

Location: 56 Brewer Street
Hospitality: Very nice people and welcoming
Wait time: you can usually get a table when you walk in

Ten Ten Tei Shio RamenI found this restaurant while exploring the backstreets of London. It is a small restaurant with a lower level for extra seating and a sushi bar near the entrance. They serve a variety of dishes including bento. However, looking through the menu you will find they do three types of ramen: Shio, Shoyu and Miso.

I have tried both the Shio and Shoyu Ramen. The Shio Ramen has a nice salty taste and is complimented by the block of butter which melts into the broth. The butter helps to bring out the egg flavour of the noodles. This dish does not come with any seaweed but instead you will find corn and other vegetables in the broth. I have to admit that this has become one of my favourite types of ramen.

Ten Ten Tei Shoyu RamenThe Shoyu Ramen is the soy sauce based broth. This is probably one of the more common types of ramen bowl you may find other than the tonkotsu broth. The dish is served with bamboo sprouts. The boiled egg is nice and the pork cutlets are just right, with very little fat in them. Overall, if you want to find a restaurant which will serve several versions of ramen, Ten Ten Tei is a very good place to go and very affordable since a bowl of ramen will cost you approximately £6.

Tomoe

Location: 292 Upper Richmond Road, in Putney
Hospitality: Very nice people and welcoming
Wait time: you can usually get a table when you walk in but sometimes they get very busy

Tomoe RestaurantThis was perhaps the first authentic ramen restaurant I tried in London before travelling to Japan. However, I initially tried their Tonkatsu don (a rice bowl with fried pork covered in egg sauce) before I had their Shoyu Ramen. The food in Tomoe is very authentic as is the hospitality of the staff. The style of the restaurant is similar to those in Japan. You’ll find a bar and various tables for regular seating. This restaurant only serves one type of ramen, but it is very nice. Normally, you get seaweed in your Shoyu Ramen which (if you like seaweed) can be very pleasant with your noodles.

tomoe-shoyu-ramenWhat I also like about this restaurant is that they will go the extra mile to serve you. Normally, they only serve ramen during their lunch time from mid-day until 2:30 p.m. But one evening (after 6 p.m.) I went to the restaurant expecting to find ramen on the menu, I soon found out that they only serve it during lunch. However, the waitress was nice enough to go and ask the chef if he would make some ramen. I was so happy when she came back with good news. I had a delicious bowl of Shoyu Ramen that evening. This restaurant is located south of the river in the Putney area, if you are in the Putney area, look them up, they are worth eating at.

It is also worth noting that this restaurant has a lunch menu and a dinner menu. You will find ramen only on the lunch menu.

Shoryu and Shoryu Go

Location: 19 Air Street (Shoryo Go), There is a Shoryu (full restaurant) on Carnaby Street and Denman Street
Hospitality: Very nice people and welcoming
Wait time: it depends on the time of day, sometimes they get so busy you have to queue up outside

Shoryu Go RestaurantShoryu and Shoryu Go are essentially the same restaurant with the following exception. Shoryu Go is a smaller version of the Shoryu restaurant. What you get with Shoryu Go is a small ramen shop with a few bar stools for sitting and when the shop gets busy, you have a lot of people standing around ordering and eating. It can get crowded fairly quick. However, when it is not so crowded Shoryu Go can be a very pleasant and relaxing place to eat at. It’s primary purpose is to feed people on the go.

The main restaurant can be found on Denman Street as well as several other locations around the city. Shoryu seems to be a very popular destination for many ramen lovers. When the restaurant gets busy, people start to queue outside the restaurant. Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu RamenSometimes you have to wait up to 30 minutes before you can be seated. On the bright side if you don’t mind sitting at the bar, you can get served quicker.

Shoryu’s menu contains many different types of ramen. Here you can spend days tasting the various types they have to offer. If you are not sure where to start, why not try their signature dish “Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu” ramen. It is a very good ramen bowl but it is also very spicy. So if you don’t like spicy food or want to avoid it, be warned. Otherwise, look down the list and try a different one. One side note is that Shoryu Go (the smaller restaurant) offers a limited menu. This means that they don’t serve all the different ramen’s you will find at the main restaurant.

Taro

Location: 61 Brewer Street
Hospitality: Very nice people and welcoming
Wait time: this place can get very busy during lunch but you can normally share a table at it’s peak time

Taro-ramenIt can be easy to miss this restaurant when walking down Brewer Street. Taro is an authentic Japanese restaurant serving noodle dishes and sushi. They have been around since 1999 and show a very strong popularity in the area. During the lunch hours, the restaurant can get very busy. However, you don’t have to wait long to get a table. If there isn’t a table available, you can share a table with other customers in the restaurant. Like Shoryu, the ramen menu at Taro is extensive. They offer many types of ramen. If you have not had ramen before you can always start out with a pork ramen, miso ramen or shoyu ramen. Once you’ve tasted the basic types of ramen you can then explore the other types the restaurant serves.

Kanada-Ya

Location: 64 St Giles High St
Hospitality: Very nice people and welcoming
Wait time: you can usually get a table when you walk in

Kanada Ya pork bone ramenKanada-Ya is a restaurant I heard about while watching a documentary on TV. The funny thing about the program I was watching is that they never named the restaurant. I had to do quite a bit of research to find out that it was Kanada-Ya.

What initially interested me about Kanada-Ya was their well known Tonkotsu Ramen (pork bone broth). They cook their pork bone broth for 18 hours to get the white creamy soup which they serve in their ramen bowls. This ramen shop is so popular that many people queue up outside during lunch and wait for a seat inside. The restaurant is small and cozy seating only 24 people at a time. Kanada Ya OnigiriAlthough they are fairly new to London (established 27 August 2014) they have become a number one destination for many ramen lovers. They serve several ramen recipes with their pork bone broth as the main soup.

What surprised me the most was not their ramen but their onigiri (Super premium Tamanishiki rice balls). Usually I avoid rice balls because I am not a big fan of sushi or any type of cold fish in or on rice. However, when I tried their onigiri it was one of the best tasting warm salmon in rice that I had ever tasted. Admittingly I would go back to Kanada Ya primarily for their onigiri.

Other Authentic Ramen Restaurants in London

There are a couple more restaurants I would like to mention. These are restaurants I have eaten at only once, but they do serve authentic ramen and are worth a try.

Kulu Kulu

Location: 56 Brewer Street
Hospitality: Very nice people and welcoming
Wait time: we were able to get a seat during lunch time without waiting

Kulu Kulu RestaurantKulu Kulu is an authentic Japanese restaurant which serves a variety of dishes including ramen. When you walk into their restaurant you will find tables and chairs, but they also have a rotating bar. Basically you sit at a bar while a conveyor belt system displays and transports food around the bar. The chefs cook the dishes and place them on the conveyor and customers pick the dish they would like to eat as the food comes by. You don’t have to eat from the conveyor, you can easily order a meal through a traditional menu. It’s a nice experience and well worth trying out once.

Ramen Sasuke

Location: 56 Brewer Street
Hospitality: Very nice people and welcoming
Wait time: it’s a small place but getting a seat was not an issue

Sasuke RamenRamen Sasuke is another restaurant that can easily be overlooked. It blends into the side buildings as you walk down the street, but it does have an authentic traditional Japanese restaurant look. This was a place I tried on my question to find ramen. The hospitality is nice and their ramen is good. Sasuke RamenAdditionally, they have a nice little bar facing the street. So when people walk by, they can see what you are eating.

I would consider Ramen Sasuke a true ramen shop since they primarily specialise in ramen. They serve many different types of ramen including some of the main types outlined at the beginning of this article. This is another ramen restuarant well worth trying.

Conclusion

If you have never had ramen before, I recommend becoming family with the four basic types and trying them one at a time. For some reason many people that eat ramen fall in love with it. Some people have speculated that the reason for this is because ramen is such a simple meal. You get a large bowl with noodles, soup and a many different combinations of meet and vegetables. The flavours are as varied as the colours of the rainbow. If you have some favourite restaurants or types of ramen you would like to share, feel free to comment below. Also, don’t forget to like and share this article.

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