LONDON Love&Hate 愛と憎しみのロンドン

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London’s best new ramen places: restaurant reviews

A few weeks ago I was approached by representatives of Ippudo, a Japanese chain of ramen restaurants which was preparing its London launch. Would I, for a fee, host their opening party? Er no, taking money to promote restaurants really isn’t part of the job description. Still, I could understand them examining all the PR possibilities. Ippudo may be a highly regarded brand in Japan, with 85 branches. They may be famed for serving noodles in half a dozen different textures from soft to very hard. Its founder, Shigemi Kawahara, might be the self-styled Ramen King.


And being open. Newcomer Kanada-Ya is another whitewashed import from Japan which has set up just behind Tottenham Court Road. The first lunchtime I visit it’s closed, the chairs stacked on the tables like it’s going-home time at infant school. The manager tells me they ran out of tonkotsu broth the night before. They won’t have more until that evening. I express bafflement. A ramen place? Running out of broth? That’s like a priest running out of prayers. Two days later and they are closed again. They have a Japanese TV crew in making a film about the ramen invasion of London. I cross the road to Ippudo, located directly opposite.


As to the ramen, the tonkotsu stock here is a fine example: meaty and rich, with a sticky gelatine echo of the bones that went into it. The noodles, which we order with regular softness, come with a lovely bite. But then, given Ippudo’s global reputation, this is as it should be. I don’t think it’s especially better than the home-grown Tonkotsu chain. And the service is bloody annoying. I long for peace and quiet. Music throbs and we are asked every two minutes how we are. Yes, it’s all fine. Now leave us alone. Plus, there’s the bill. Because of the long wait, and with sides and wines from a tiny list, we hand over £100 for two. For ramen.






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