Review: Sanpotei Tokyo Lab, Nakameguro


Sanpotei Tokyo Lab / 三宝亭東京ラボ

Japanese food has boomed in the West over the past few years. Not just ramen, but all kinds of stylish “Japanese” places are popping up, with polished wooden surfaces and all fanfare of fusion dishes.

Although I’m all for experimentation, I’m naturally a little sceptical  when self-professed Japanese food lovers claim that going to one of these trendy joints is evidence!

“Places like this don’t actually exist in Japan,” I say, trying my hardest to tiptoe round being overtly sanctimonious. “And, no, Hirata buns, are a Western take on Taiwanese street food, and no, they have nothing to do with Japan.”

But having visited Sanpotei Tokyo Lab, I can now offer up a different response. There is at least one trendy place doing experimental food in Japan. And, naturally, it does it better! Continue reading “Review: Sanpotei Tokyo Lab, Nakameguro”

Review: Marutama Ramen, Ryogoku


I used to be a massive music fan, attending live concerts once or twice a month. From the age of 16 to 20, I was the epitome of fanatical. Then, I kinda chilled out a bit. I’m a rubbish fan – I get obsessed with something for a while, then lose interest. Fortunately, the connection between my full stomach and my happiness levels is quite strong so I don’t think I’ll get bored of food. Continue reading “Review: Marutama Ramen, Ryogoku”

Chocolate ramen! Valentine’s Day limited menu – Mensho Tokyo, Korakuen


IMG_8185 (1).jpg

Nothing says romance like chocolate noodles, right?

Mensho Tokyo is serving up chocolate ramen in honour of Valentine’s Day. For just 800 yen, you can get yourself a bowl of noodles with a generous smattering of chocolate drops on top! Continue reading “Chocolate ramen! Valentine’s Day limited menu – Mensho Tokyo, Korakuen”

Review: Menya Musashi, Shinjuku / 麺屋武蔵, 新宿

Pork belly tonkotsu ramen at Menya Musashi
Pork belly tonkotsu ramen at Menya Musashi

Way, way back in the autumn, when I first arrived in Tokyo (this time round, anyway), I wanted to eat ramen almost immediately. As any ramen fan should. Plus I had a visitor from the UK, which made it all the more imperative that we should eat ramen. Menya Musashi (麺屋武蔵) is one of the most popular, with several branches, their Shinjuku branch being particularly famous. Continue reading “Review: Menya Musashi, Shinjuku / 麺屋武蔵, 新宿”

Spring Trip to Kyushu: Fukuoka

Strolling through Fukuoka
Strolling through Fukuoka

Oh what’s that? Is that a spring holiday I smell?

Where haven’t I been in Japan yet? KYUSHU!

Actually, there are many places in Japan I haven’t been yet (despite a good friend accusing me of marking my territory like a dog) but I heard that Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan, had really good food. It’s not hard to see why it quickly became a priority.

Booking flights less than three weeks before, my mother, flying from London, and I from Tokyo, began and ended our adventure in Fukuoka, conveniently the birthplace of tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen, the most delicious type of ramen in my humble opinion.

Hello sneaky ramen pic!
Hello sneaky ramen pic!

Continue reading “Spring Trip to Kyushu: Fukuoka”

Sirloin Steak Ramen! Senrigan’s 5th Anniversary, Komabatodaimae

Sexy but dangerous
Sexy but dangerous

Every day I cycle to school past a sole ramen store on a restaurant-sparse stretch of road. Every day, I glance up at the yellow sign and think “I must try that one day.”

That store is called Senrigan (千里眼 – ‘clairvoyance’) and on Friday I finally tried it. With serious consequences. Continue reading “Sirloin Steak Ramen! Senrigan’s 5th Anniversary, Komabatodaimae”

It’s Chocolate Noodle time! Valentine’s Day Chocolate Tsukemen at Menya Musashi

Is that some chocolate in my noodles?
Is that some chocolate in my noodles?

Yes, that is a piece of chocolate sitting casually nestled among some noodles and vegetables. Popular ramen restaurant Menya Musashi in Shinjuku may be famed for its huge chunks of juicy kakuni pork but it’s not opposed to branching out for a special occasion. Continue reading “It’s Chocolate Noodle time! Valentine’s Day Chocolate Tsukemen at Menya Musashi”

Tokyo Ramen Show 2014 / 東京ラーメンショー2014: ROUND 2

It's Ramen Time.
It’s Ramen Time.

Yes, you read that right. This is Round 2 – I went to Tokyo Ramen Show twice! For all the info on this heavenly event, read Part 1. I’m going to cut straight to the noodle and tell you what was worth eating – and believe me….


Continue reading “Tokyo Ramen Show 2014 / 東京ラーメンショー2014: ROUND 2”

Tokyo Ramen Show 2014 / 東京ラーメンショー2014

Fiery ramen
Fiery ramen

If you’re a foodie, you know you’ve made a good friend when your dining companion pulls out a notebook and starts rating dishes and writing comments. As a food blogger, I was half-filled with shame and half-filled with admiration.

How did I come to meet such a food-obsessed dining companion? The moral of the story is to always say YES. Continue reading “Tokyo Ramen Show 2014 / 東京ラーメンショー2014”

Review: Shoryu Ramen – Soho Pop-Up

Shoryu is a garlic lover's heaven...
Shoryu is a garlic lover’s heaven…

Dear readers, apologies for the break! Exams have prevented me from blogging. However, you’ll pleased to know that *nothing* prevents me from eating! So I have a good two months’ backlog of delciousness.

For my return to the blogosphere, I bring you a 5/5 review (yes really) from the brilliant Shoryu ramen.

Shoryu ramen
Shoryu ramen

To celebrate their opening, they were offering a 3-day 50% discount. So I went twice. Then they extended their offer to the end of April so I squeezed in a third trip ( – such a chore being a food blogger, I know). So I have sampled THREE dishes for you all.

Bones! Pork bones!
Bones! Pork bones!
Eating alone is standard at ramen places in Japan. I ate at Shoryu Ramen alone the second time. And ended up swapping food stories with a very nice lady ^_^
Eating alone is standard at ramen places in Japan. I ate at Shoryu Ramen alone the second time. And ended up swapping food stories with a very nice lady ^_^
Snack on some lightly pickled cabbage whilst you wait
Snack on some lightly pickled cabbage whilst you wait
Don't put your bag on the floor. Keep it tidily in a basket. It even fits my monster-sized bag.
Don’t put your bag on the floor. Keep it tidily in a basket. It even fits my monster-sized bag.

First of all, Shoryu looks like a Japanese restaurant. It has drapes over the door, the low tables, baskets for your belongings and that elegant modernism that makes Japanese-design generally revered. Having spent a lot of time in Japan, I was instantly in love. Plus there are actually Japanese people working there. Shouting in Japanese. Oh I was so happy.

Secondly, I must make a terrible confession. I have spent over 14 months of my life in Japan. And I’ve hardly ever eaten ramen. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Noodles in soup? How exciting could that be? Turns out I was just unlucky in my choices. Because now I’ve had Shoryu Ramen, I want to eat ramen until slops out of my ears. Almost.

Shoryu serve ramen in tonkotsu broth – broth made from boiling up pork bones. The menu runs several variations on the theme. I tried their signature Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu (£9.50)  – a tonkotsu and miso broth with added spinach and garlic. Your menu will tell you: “All tonkotsu ramen comes in a rich tonkotsu pork broth with bbq pork, nitamago egg, kikurage mushrooms, beansprouts, spring onion, sesame, ginger & nori unless stated.” So expect all the works. Tender slices of pork, delicious mushrooms, the slightly sweet hard-boiled egg. Oh yes.

Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu - their signature dish
Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu – their signature dish

For me, this ramen hit the spot. The broth was rich and warming without being too heavy or oily. The sesame and garlic were fantastic. It was essentially a evolutionary flavour party and had me draining my bowl dry.

It’s traditional to eat ramen by slurping the noodles in a way that would be considered horrendously impolite in the UK. I’ve never managed the trick as I end up sucking the noodles too quickly so they whip upwards and splatter broth across my forehead. But by all means, give it a try.

Dracula Tonkotsu - think garlic overload!
Dracula Tonkotsu – think garlic overload!

On my second visit I risked the Dracula Tonkotsu (£11.50), described as “deep roasted tones from caramelised black garlic mayu, balsamic vinegar and garlic chips”. Mayu is apparently a type of garlic oil, and yes, this was garlicky! If you love garlic, then this is definitely for you. Please realise that you will be antisocial for two days afterwards (I exaggerate not). I found the garlic chips a bit bitter and just a tad too much, but the flavour of the broth was again spot on.

Karaka Tantan Tonkotsu - spicy but addictive!
Karaka Tantan Tonkotsu – spicy but addictive!

Third time round, I tackled Karaka Tantan Tonkotsu (

£9.90) – “

tonkotsu with a twist, rich and spicy fried minced pork in white miso & garlic with added lemon, garlic and chiu chow chilli oil”. This is actually spicy –  not mouth-scorchingly so, but it has a real pleasant kick. The chilli flavour is the slightly sour spice like in Korean kimchi but a lot milder, and, although my tongue initially protested, within a few mouthfuls it gave in and begged for more. Seriously addictive. For anyone who likes spice, I highly recommend this dish. It comes without the barbecue pork but spicy minced pork on top – very tasty but I thought the portion could have been a little more generous.

Padron peppers
Padron peppers

My friend Sparrow was dining with me, and in a very un-Sparrow-like manner, he was super hungry and ordered Shishito (

£6.00) –

fried padron peppers with hakata yuzu and british sea salt – and we shared some Gyoza Dumplings (5 pieces / £5). The peppers were a little underwhelming – too plain for my liking – but the gyoza were fabulous. Shoryu also do some Hirata Buns (the steamed white soft dough with tasty fillings like belly pork sandwiched in the middle) but sadly they didn’t have them the day I was there. If anyone has tried them, do let me know your opinion!

Pork gyoza with soy, ginger and spring onions
Pork gyoza with soy, ginger and spring onions

Shoryu Ramen 5/5 – Just so good. Don’t waste a single drop of that broth.

Food 5/5 – I can’t believe my scepticism in Japan has seen me reduced to this ramen-loving blabbering idiot. Shoryu have converted me.
Value 3/5 – So in Japan, ramen are cheap. Seriously cheap. £5 a bowl cheap. But the thing is that Shoryu ramen are so good…so if you pretend that you don’t know about the true cost of ramen, and only know the London cost of ramen, then it’s fine 😉 Plus they have the 10%-off offer at the moment!
Atmosphere  4/5 – You’re crammed in but there’s happy slurping all round.
Service 5/5 – Prompt and efficient. I love the older Japanese guy who calls out Japanese greetings. Makes me miss Japan.

Where: 3 Denman Street London W1D 7HA (30 seconds from Piccadilly Circus)
When: Mon – Fri 11:45-15:00 / 17:00-00:00; Sat 11:45-00:00; Sun & Bank Holidays 11:45-21:30