Really, is there a problem in life that can’t be solved with ramen?
Back in 2018, ramen was voted the most fashionable food, not for the fact that it’s trendy to eat, but because it was voted the food that people most want on their clothes. Hey, nothing screams “I HAVE TOTALLY BOSSED TODAY’S OUTFIT!” quite like a bowl of noodley broth on the back of your shirt, am I right? Here in 2020, we’ve got bigger concerns than sporting noodles on one’s sweatshirt, but our love for slurpable soup, chewy noodles, and mouthwatering toppings remains undimmed. So, without further ado, here are Secret London’s favourite ramen restaurants in London!
1. Heddon Yokocho, Mayfair
If London’s ramen scene was worth shouting about before Heddon Yokocho arrived, it’s even more worthy of praise now. The team behind Japan Centre and Shoryu have unveiled this new noodle spot, a retro ramen joint that harks back to the yokocho (alleyways) of 70s Tokyo in both design and menu. You’ll be able to tuck into ramen from across Japan, including Sapporo Miso – drawn from the snowy northern reaches of Hokkaido – and the classic Tonkotsu ramen, which has its origins in Kyushu. Meanwhile, signature dish The Yokocho, a soy based chicken and pork broth ramen topped with BBQ pork, menma bamboo shoots, naruto fish cake, and whole nitamago egg, is definitely worth jumping on. Kick back with a highball or Japanese draft beer, tuck into ramen, karaage, gyoza, and more, and enjoy the splendid decor. You’ll see the retro signage and colourful lanterns all over Instagram, for sure, but it’s better still to see them in real life as you slurp down a bowl of beautiful ramen!
They’ve also got a soft opening offer of 50% off all ramen on October 15 & 16 (12-3pm and 5:30-10pm only), which is even more reason to pop down. See more on their website.
8 Heddon Street, Mayfair, W1B 4BU. Nearest station is Piccadilly Circus.
Shoryu’s menu is brimming with excellent dishes; all served with oodles of noodles, that can be cooked exactly how you like them. We thoroughly recommend going for one of their 12-hour pork broth ramen, aka Tonkotsu. They all come topped with char siu barbecue pork belly, plus all the trimmings.
Find Shoryu at various locations across London. More info on their website.
3. Showaken, Leicester Square
Found at food and lifestyle store Japan Centre on Panton Street, Showaken hearkens back to a time before smartphones and street food, and offers a laidback lunch option. This place has chosen 70s Tokyo as its inspiration, featuring red tabletops, lanterns, and wall art to evoke the ramen joints of Shitamachi, on the eastern side of Tokyo. That means authentic Shitamachi ramen, favouring light broths served with char siu BBQ pork belly, Chinese cabbage, and nitamago egg, along with vegetarian and miso-rich Hokkaido ramens.
35b Panton Street, SW1Y 4EA. Nearest station is Piccadilly Circus.
4. Monohon Ramen, Old Street
Founder Ian Wheatley fell in love with Japan whilst living in Osaka in the 90s, and channelled that passion into Monohon Ramen, which began as a pop-up back in 2015. The Shoyu Tonkotsu delivers a big umami hit, whilst cod roe is used to flavour the Mentaiko Cream Ramen. Of course, you could always opt for the largest option on the menu with The Big Boy Spicy Special complete with all the toppings, extra egg, and spicy miso pork mince.
102 Old Street, EC1V 9AY. Nearest station is Old Street.
Tonkotsu is known for two things: ramen and whiskey. (Their Mare Street branch has over 60 whiskies behind the bar.) Choose anything from their namesake Tonkotsu with pork belly, to their vegetarian curried pumpkin and spiced corn ramen. Oh and they actively encourage slurping, so don’t worry about seeming impolite.
Find Tonkotsu in various locations across London. More info on their website.
6. Kaubōi Ramen, Bermondsey (currently closed)
Authentic, it is not. But what Kaubōi Ramen lacks in authenticity, it certainly makes up for in deliciousness. Marrying the flavours of Texas and Japan in a deranged, brilliant combo means you’ll find dishes like the Texas Tonkotsu, with ingredients both familiar – nori, menma, negi, kikurage – and unfamiliar. Dr Pepper-marinated, oak smoked pork belly, anyone?
8 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, SE1 3SU. Nearest station is London Bridge.
7. Koi Ramen
High quality ramen at low prices is the aim of Koi Ramen, who sport branches across Brixton, Tooting, and Elephant & Castle, including a container at Pop Brixton. Extra toppings let you customise your ramens, and if all that slurpable soup is making you anxious about the damage it can do to your outfit, you can opt for the soupless ‘Naked Ramen’.
Find Koi Ramen in various locations across London. More info on their website.
8. Taro, Soho, Kennington, and Balham
Perhaps better known for their sushi and bento boxes, Taro make our guide on the basis of their thinner, soy-based ramen. The Balham branch’s kimchi ramen adds an intriguing Korean twist to the classic dish, whilst the seafood ramens evoke the sense of being in a small fishing village.
Find Taro in various locations across London. More info on their website.
Kanada-Ya has a huge (and very well-deserved) reputation amongst ramen-loving Londoners, normally resulting in lengthy mealtime queues outside of its door. Don’t let this put you off. Pork bones are simmered for eighteen hours to create the rich and seriously smooth tonkotsu broth, whilst the toppings take the dish to the next level. Founded first in Yukuhashi, Japan, before being brought over to London, this is as authentic, and tasty, as it gets.
Find Kanada-Ya in various locations across London. More info on their website.
10. Menya Ramen House, Holborn
London foodie guides and Tripadvisor are unanimous in their praise for one of London’s very best ramen restaurants. Miso ramen with pork belly collects the bulk of the plaudits, but visitors are also given the option to spice up their broth to sweat-inducing levels. A spot by the British Museum certainly doesn’t hurt the foot traffic, either.
29 Museum Street, Holborn, WC1A 1LH. Nearest stations are Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.
11. Ramo Ramen, Kentish Town
Another restaurant throwing authenticity by the wayside in favour of bold, experimental flavours, Ramo Ramen draws heavy inspiration from the Philippines. You wouldn’t usually find the likes of cumin mince lamb and lime in a traditional ramen, but the Lamb Tantanmen Ramen is well worth going off the map for – and you can wash it down nicely with a bubble tea!
157 Kentish Town Road, Kentish Town, NW1 8PD. Nearest station is Kentish Town West.
12. Bone Daddies
It’s been described as “the mother of all hangover cures” by one Secret London writer, and frankly there’s no higher praise than that. A New York-inspired Japanese noodle joint, Bone Daddies hang their hat on gutsy, thick soup dishes that put fire in your belly and a spring in your step. The spicy chicken Tantanmen lifts the spirits and features egg yolk so orange, it’s like sunshine in a bowl, whilst steamed chilli chashu pork buns are also the perfect antidote to Sunday-night-blues.
Find Bone Daddies in various locations across London. More info on their website.
13. Okan Ramen, Brixton and South Bank
In Osakan slang, “okan” translates as “mum”, and founder Moto Priestman has brought the food of downtown Osaka to London and infused it with a little homecooked love. You can’t really go wrong with any of their three restaurants, but the Brixton East spot might be the best one for wonderful warming ramen.
Find Okan Ramen in various locations across London. More info on their website.
14. Cocoro, Marylebone, Bloomsbury, and Highgate
Cocoro’s expansion from Marylebone was powered by the Kumamoto pork bone ramen, and whilst you might be swayed by the huge range of sushi and izakaya-style dishes, a deep dive into the ramen menu is guaranteed to put a smile on that face.
Find Cocoro in various locations across London. More info on their website.
Three-time winner of the very prestigious Ramen King Finals, IPPUDO has an excellent reputation all over the world. Their beautiful bowls of creamy broth are all made with homemade noodles and carefully selected ingredients, and everything from the minute you enter the restaurant to the moment you leave is totally authentic. The rich, filling stocks find perhaps their best companion in the Akamaru Modern, but again it’s very hard to go wrong.
Find IPPUDO at various locations across London. More info on their website.
If you’re a big fan of Japanese food, these restaurants will be right up your street. Or perhaps you’re looking for something a bit more ramentic? Here’s our pick of the most lovey-dovey restaurants in London.
Also published on Medium.