Tonkotsu Bar And Ramen, 63 Dean Street, London W1D 4QG
I don’t think we could have had any more appropriate ailments the night we visited Tonkotsu. I had just broken a tooth so was on soft food only and Ade had the beginning of a stinking cold.
Tonkotsu is named after the creamy ramen dish typical in Japan. The broth is created by emulsifying fat and collagen into the stock by cooking pork bones and fat for up to 18 hours over a high heat. Anything that takes that long to cook is worth trying out. I wonder if eating that collagen gives any anti-ageing benefits?
The restaurant is the little sister of our favourite local (well local to work) Tsuru where we have yet to find a better katsu curry, despite our half-baked attempt at a #katsuchallenge last year. We knew whatever Tonkotsu did it would be good. The post we wrote about Tsuru was one of our first ever, a bit embarassing to read it now.
The restaurant on Dean Street is set on two floors, cosy and café like, a total mix of the usual ‘trendy’ industrial style with a hint of Japanese flair. Filament bulbs hang from the ceiling mingled with birdcages, school chairs for seats, table legs made from what looked like scaffolding pipes. A small open kitchen is found at the front where the broth bubbles away in front of you.
The menu short and printed on a sheet of A4, not sure if this is to add to the cafe feel, I quite liked it, it added to the authenticity. There’s a huge selection of beers from local breweries, when I saw there was one called Beavertown Neck Oil £3.90 I knew that I had to have it, a beer made for me. Ade had a medicinal Raw Fayah, carbonated natural ginger drink £2.70, fresher and tastier than the usual ginger beer.
We had heard the gyoza were brilliant so we started off with some Prawn & Pork gyoza £5. These aren’t your uniform Wagamama ones (although we do love those too), these are a bit haphazard and fall apart as you eat them. Possibly a bit too much filling to skin ratio, but that suited me as I love that squidgy texture. They tasted so good, I could’ve had another serving.
Ade was on his sixth tissue by the time the ramen turned up, lobbing them in the bin every five minutes, which was handily placed nearby at the clearing station. I am just glad none of them hit a passer-by.
I had assured Ade that his Tonkotsu, £11, was just what he needed to make him feel better. The soothing ramen did the job, a thick creamy and gentle broth, the perfect kind for colds. The only downside was that the pork still had the fat on it, and not the nice crispy fat that we love, slimy fat, it was hard to eat around it (but it was meant to be like this). Plenty of beansprouts and veg, the perfect soft-boiled egg with the most amazing orange yolk was possibly Ade’s favourite part of the dish.
My Tokyo Spicy £9 was a delicious steaming bowl of spicy heaven, maybe it would have helped to clear Ade’s sinuses. The pork was fat-free, shredded and lots of it, it was truly perfect, I couldn’t fault it. My curly noodles had the right amount of bite to it, apparently you’re meant to slurp them, each mouthful should contain both noodles and broth, this totally goes against my hatred of noisy eating. Luckily for me these awful sounds couldn’t be heard against the restaurant chatter and music.
We finished off with some Ice Cream Little Moons £4, three little balls of sesame and yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) ice cream, we were gutted the salted caramel had sold out. The sesame rolled in black and white sesame sprinkles and filled with a grey ice cream not dissimilar to the colour of the walls in our living room. My favourite was the tangy yet creamy yuzu, loved the combined textures of the hard ice cream and chewy coating. A week later, my tooth is fixed by amazing dentist and Ade’s cold has diminished and passed on to me instead. I think I know what I need for that…
Now if only they sold ramen at Tsuru too… Although that would make the decision between a katsu curry and ramen very difficult indeed.
Tonkotsu Bar And Ramen,
63 Dean Street, London W1D 4QG
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12-3pm 5-10.30pm
Sat-Sun 12N-10.30pm (Sun -10pm)
Nearest tubes: Tottenham Court Road, Charing Cross, Leicester Square