Ramen galore, late lunch at Tonkotsu (fab) and at Toku (bad)

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A couple of weeks ago, on a miserable day exactly like today, I spent my morning trapped in back-to-back meetings in Fitzrovia. At midday I could already feel my stomach rumbling, but it wasn’t until nearly 1.30PM that, almost fainting – ok, it’s my dramatic Italianity kicking in, feeling slightly weak and really hungry – I gained the exit and almost run to Tonkotsu for a comforting bowl of ramen.

Tonkotsu is another addition to the London’s ramen bar scene. Since my visit to Bone Daddies, a few weeks back, I think I must have developed and addiction, because when I am really hungry, I find myself day dreaming of ramen. A serious worry for my waistline (!).

The team behind Tsuru Sushi and Katsu opened Tonkotsu last year on Dean Street – after a few ramen pop-up experiments at Tsuru Sushi. As you would expect from a ramen bar, the menu is pretty simple, four types of ramen dishes, – the ramen are freshly made at the restaurant, you can see the kitchen by the entrance – handmade Gyoza, a bunch of sides and a couple of dessert options.

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Tonkotsu is a really small restaurant, with a minimalist wooden and steel décor, and it’s pretty dark, almost NYC-style dark.

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Now, because I have recently embarked on a healthy attempt, I ordered Shimeji, Shiitake & Miso Ramen (£9): Miso-based, konbu and shiitake stock with shimeji mushrooms, medium thick noodles, a handful of bean sprouts and bamboo shoots and half a seasoned, soft-boiled egg.

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Just looking at the picture makes me salivating. Yes, it was that good. And it was the vegetarian option! Perfectly bouncy thick noodles, in a delightful miso soup and a heavenly creamy soft-boiled egg.

I slurped my bowl to the last noodle remaining, and truly enjoyed it.

My verdict? I would will definitely visit again. Unlike some reviews I read, my experience with service was very positive. Attentive and helpful.

Lunch for 1 = analcholic drink : £13. Recommended.

Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon

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My experience at Toku, a few days later, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly that positive.

To cut a very long story short, I ended up at Toku, just by Japan Centre for a very quick lunch. My initial plan was to order sushi, however, my ramen cravings started to kick in, again…

After a 5 minute wait, not sure why, since there were quite a few tables and stalls at the bar available, I was finally seated. I had a look at the long and complicated menu, and asked guidance to the  pretty inexperienced waiter.

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That should have been a warning sign. At that point, I was tempted to leave my drink order and run to next door Shoryu Ramen. But I – stupidly – decided to stay.

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So, this is what I ended up ordering, pork ramen.

The soup was greasy, extremely bland; totally lacking the layers of flavours of my Bone Daddies ramen. The ginger was lovely and crunchy. The noodles, probably out of a packet from next door Japan Centre supermarket.

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All in all, a disappointment. Plus side, they offer complementary wasabi peas with your drink.

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Service is not knowledgeable or helpful by any means, I had to ask for my bill 4 times. I won’t go back, ever. Now I probably need to re-visit Bone Daddies to compensate for such a bad experience…

Lunch for 1 with non alcoholic drink £16.

Toku, Japan Centre on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

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