Friday, December 6, 2013
Tonkotsu Ramen @ Taro, Brewer Street
I know what you're thinking. I know it looks like I eat out a lot but ... okay, I eat out a lot. At least, I've been eating out more than usual lately. I don't really drink, so whenever I catch up with friends after work, it's usually for a meal, rather than for a glass of wine (though I do love an occasional glass of wine - my body, however, doesn't). This week, my dinner schedule looked like this:
Monday - chicken burger meal from Chicken Cottage, complete with fries and a Coke. Don't judge. It only happened once.
Tuesday - dinner at Hakkasan. It was my birthday. Come on.
Wednesday - Spam, fried egg, and rice at home (a Cantonese last-resort/quick-fix meal).
Thursday - Tonkotsu ramen at Taro on Brewer Street (pictured above).
Friday - I plan to subsist solely on mince pies, mulled wine, and gingerbread cookies at my friend's Christmas party. I'm not sure how successful I'll be.
Oh, and I think I might have had a slice of cake every day for the past 7 days. Leafy greens? Out the window. Fiber? Do digestive biscuits count as a source of fiber?
Guilty confession time aside, I had the most delicious ramen with Carin at Taro on Brewer Street last night. Although I'd only been to Tonkotsu East a couple of weeks before, I couldn't turn down an invitation for ramen - particularly as it's just turned so darn cold outside. A large bowlful of steaming, tonkotsu broth seemed far more appealing than anything else at the time.
At Tonkotsu East, your menu choices are slightly limited, since their focus is on two types of ramen (and for good reason - those homemade noodles are exquisite). But here, the choices were endless and everything appealed: beef teriyaki don, chicken yakisoba, tonkotsu ramen, curry udon, sushi, sashimi, bento boxes ... I could see myself getting carried away, very quickly.
After quite a bit of indecision, we finally settled on ordering vegetable gyoza to begin with, which, while arriving with a greasier and thicker wrapper than those heavenly pillows of goodness at Tonkotsu East, were nevertheless very tasty. Our ramen (I opted for the tonkotsu pork and Carin had the chicken) arrived quickly and I couldn't wait to try the milky, rich broth made from pork bone topped with a sliced hard boiled egg, picked ginger, beansprouts, seaweed and spring onion. I especially love the large, wooden spoons you're given to help you scoop up generous servings of the broth and ramen. I was in love with the broth at first taste: rich, with a real depth of flavor, the broth was a perfect accompaniment to the ramen and toppings, which didn't need any further seasoning. The ramen itself was so-so: thin, wiry noodles that differed widely from the slightly thicker, chewy and made-on-the-premises version found at Tonkotsu East, but of an acceptable quality that went well with the rest of the bowl.
The restaurant was soon full of theater-goers and tourists around 7 pm, although surprisingly, quite a lot of people came in just to order takeout. I didn't expect that, for some reason. But I could definitely see the appeal of getting a bento box or chicken donburi to take home, especially if it was on the way home.
Bottom line is, I'll definitely be back to Taro to try all the other items on their menu - it's a friendly, cozy, environment with authentic Japanese food (and lots of options!), which is a rare gem to find in the tourist traps of Soho, London. Thanks for the suggestion and lovely dinner conversation, Carin!