Friday, 23 November 2012

Bone Daddies ramen London Soho - playing the cool card


Bone Daddies ramen review London Soho
Bone Daddies - getting into the mood

Address: 31 St Peter Street
London W1F 0AR
Tel: 020 7287 8581
Nearest Tube station:
Leicester Square
Piccadilly Circus

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £20 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ***
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
I have to keep on reminding myself that noodles isn't for everyone. When asked whether he have had ramen, P the Frenchman replied," You mean like the one in Kungfu Panda? Nope." And he went on about how he could never quite figure out the noodles eaten by "people from the Far East". All that while he was licking off the remnants of Zizzi's spaghetti carbonara (which by the way is rather decent).

As someone from the "Far East" (it makes me feel rather exotic), I grew up feasting on noodles. The first ramen I had as a kid came in the form of an instant noodle pack. It was a "chu qian yi ding" pack - the one with a young kid with clogs carrying a box with a hot steaming bowl of noodles. It tasted pretty much like any other instant noodles albeit with more "spring" and always come with a small sachet of sesame oil, which made all the difference.

But it hardly makes sense to settle for dried packed instant noodles when you can have the real thing. Few things beat having a bowl of pipping hot bone flavoured broth boiled overnight. Ramen fans would be thrilled to know that Bone Daddies has joined the two existing ramen joints (Tonkotsu and Ittenbari) within a few minutes walk of each other at London Soho.

The name could very well pass off as a Hells Angels' hangout. With loud rock music and all black facade, it's worlds apart from the more subtle setting of Tonkotsu. While there some proper tables, the seating area is dominated by high stools perched on the window-side counter and around an elongated table.

Possibly because of the high tempo music, the staff at Bone Daddies were all pretty pleasantly upbeat. They were zooming around the cosy setup with a smile fixated on their faces. I wouldn't be surprised if they were doing high-fives behind the counter after serving every bowl of ramen.

Bone Daddies ramen review London Soho tonkotsu ramen
Tonkotsu ramen in that thick oily broth

My dipstick test for ramen has always been the broth. It must be thick but not too cloudy, flavourful but not MSG laden else you'll end up gulping down gallons of water after that. I'm happy to report that the Bone Daddies' tonkotsu ramen (£11) ticked the right boxes. I would like it to be less oily. Also, the Bone Daddies can be more generous with the broth - it barely covered the ramen. That just left me wanting more.

The charsiew (roast pork) slices lacked texture, tore easily and almost mushy to the palate. Though the egg looked great with its soft yolk and all, it faltered in comparison with Tonkotsu's - the soy seasoning just wasn't done as thoroughly. At least both halves of the egg were served.

Compared to the Tonkotsu's three-ramen menu, Bone Daddies's is vast. Boosting a grand total of eight ramen with almost nonchalant names like tantanmen (spicy, mince pork), tantanmen 2 (non-spicy, mince chicken), T22 and dipping ramen, Bone Daddies is playing the cool card.

Bone Daddies ramen review London Soho fried chicken
Fried chicken in a bucket

Its fried chicken (£5), none other than karaage chicken equivalent, came in a metallic can. I'm more used to having my chips and the occasional onion rings served in those. I ended up using my fingers on those, which was just as well. I would like them a bit crunchier (rarely anyone does that now save Necco) but at least they were juicy. And there was a tinge of garlic in the batter. The fried chicken came with a sweet chilli oil dip, a first for me.

Bone Daddies ramen review London Soho tantanmen
Tantanmen - chilli oil is tad overpowering

As a nod to tradition, Bone Daddies has noren (Japanese curtain dividers) at its entrance. Koya (insert) does that too. The only difference is that Bone Daddies' entrance is by the side, which is rather annoying when you have to hold open the door with one hand and keep the noren out of your face with the other. Try it and you'd know what I mean.

With loud rock music, an international staff and a name like that, Bone Daddies makes ramen more accessible to Londoners who are not quite used to noodles in a bowl hot broth. Who knows? I might even get P to try it someday.


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