Shoryu Ramen on Kingly Street is so new Google Maps hasn’t even got it yet, which is how I accidentally ended up at their branch on Regent Street. Luckily, the noodly micro-chain’s latest addition was just up the road, so by the time I’d ridden my boneshaker up Regent Street I’d only kept my dinner date waiting fifteen minutes. Whoops.
The sound of someone enthusiastically belting an enormous drum made us jump as we entered the restaurant. Apparently it is traditional to bang it once when people enter – welcome! – and twice when people leave. It’s quite a nice sound, actually, even though by the time we left they practically had to have someone on stand-by doing a sort of drum solo to properly welcome/see off everyone who crossed the threshold.
Now, I am not a fan of Carnaby Street. It is – not to be rude – full of overpriced crap for tourists to waste their money on. It also has a lot of restaurants who peddle mediocre food at exorbitant prices, so I didn’t expect to be blown away by a noodle bar, of all places. I turned out to be pleasantly surprised.
The restaurant has that sort of industrial thing going on that’s so in at the moment, all exposed pipes and open kitchen. Japanese lanterns hang in the windows and an impressive collection of sake lines the walls. It really couldn’t be more Japanese if it tried.
And the same goes for the menu. Luckily, our waitress Siyoung (who actually turned out to be Korean) was on hand to explain everything, because reading it was pretty hard going. There is just SO MUCH on offer. I am a greedy fuck who lives solely to shove lovely things into her mouth, so when faced with an enormous menu I get this terrible paralysing fear of regret.
I know. It’s a real problem.
In the end we decided to ease our way in gently with a couple of sides served ahead of time as starters. We plumped for two soft steamed hirata buns with belly pork and tempura prawn – both delicious, although quite steep at £7/two. We also got the Hakata Tetsunabe Gyoza, crispy pork-filled Japanese dumplings in a sizzling cast iron pan, which was wonderful. Like a posh Japanese sausage roll.
So far, so good. On to the noodles, then, which I’ve always been secretly afraid of. I just cannot eat them tidily, or with any modicum of dignity or decorum. I have no fucking clue how some people can just wind them effortlessly around their chopsticks, twisting them into a perfectly proportioned parcel without getting them everywhere. I didn’t have the balls to ask for a fork, and sure enough, I had sauce in my hair within two minutes.
But cutlery (or lack thereof) aside, we’d made some excellent choices. My companion chose the Curry Ramen (£11.90), made with Shoryu’s famous pork broth, crispy chicken, fishcake and a glorious, orange-yolked soft-boiled egg. You know the Chicken Katsu Curry everyone gets at Wagamama because it’s the best thing on the menu? It was like that made into soup, but much fresher and more flavoursome.
I chose the Kuro Tan Tan (£11.90), a dish with a thick sauce instead of a soup. It was rich, hot and spicy, the kind of thing that’s perfect for a cold winter’s day. The portions were enormous – I’m currently writing this sprawled in bed ungracefully like an engorged jellyfish, tentacles flopping out all over the shop.
Although that may be because there were also desserts and cocktails on offer…
Full disclosure: I visited Shoryu Ramen at the invitation of their PR people, but, as always, my opinions are 100% legit. The food is very good – much better than most of the micro-chains around the area – and for the money it’s better that a Wagamama or the Busabi Eathai around the corner. You can eat enough to roll out the door for about £20-25 a head, but the menu is a real beefcake so check it out in advance here.
You can find Shoryu Ramen at Kingly Court off Carnaby Street, W1B 5PJ, but they also have nearby branches on Regent Street and in Soho.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.