Whether you’re in the mood for a proper Japanese classic, eaten in the privacy of a shuchu (a small, sectioned-off, solo booth that allows you to focus 100 percent on your ramen), or a bowl that’s a little more bit off-beat, hunkered down amongst the buzz of Dalston’s Kingsland Road, London’s ramen scene is only getting bigger (and better).
Bring a napkin, and prepare to slurp a bowl of the good stuff at these excellent ramen restaurants in London:
Kanada-Ya | Multiple locations in London
Kanada-Ya is the success story of a small-town kid who made it big overseas. Originally it was a dinky ramen bar in Yukuhashi, Japan, before arriving in our neck of the woods and rapidly amassing a loyal legion of fans for its wheat noodles (crafted in a high-tech Japanese noodle-making device) and cloudy, creamy broth that’s simmered around pork bones for 18 hours. The sauce in founder Kanada-San’s tonkotsu is top-secret information and highly-sought after – so much so that some sneaky people in Fukui prefecture tried stealing the recipe. That attempt at theft turned out rather well for us, as it led him to London where he now has five thriving ramen restaurants across town: Angel, Piccadilly, Covent Garden, Carnaby & Ealing. Only Ealing takes reservations; for the others you’ll need a good book and a raincoat.
Details: Multiple locations | Find out more here
Okan now boasts four Osakan-style restaurants across London – two in Brixton and another on the Southbank. The Brixton East branch is the only place you’ll find their ramen however – big bowls of soupy goodness, nurtured to life with motherly love (which is appropriate as Okan is Osakan slang for mother). The menu is short and sweet, however it still includes a vegan ramen, as well as their top seller, the Tokyo Shoyu, featuring chicken broth & bonito.
Details: 338 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8QH | Book on 0203 538 7521
This is what happens when ramen gets souped-up. After a string of sell-out pop-ups, collabs, and take-overs (the former of which took place in his very own kitchen), chef Luke Findlay (ex NOPI and Berber & Q) decided to give the people want they wanted: big, steamy bowls of his wildly inauthentic but delicious ramen (streaky bacon, slow-roast tomatoes and buttered toast flavoured ramen – say what?) on more of a permanent basis. Squeezed into Dalston’s buzzy Kingsland Road, the space is small and simple but does the job – and there’s beer, wine and a strangely difficult to open bottle of lemonade to wash it all down.
Details: 499 Kingsland Road, E8 4AU | Book here
Kinoya | Knightsbridge
This ramen bar – set in the madly opulent Dining Hall at Harrods – is run by self-taught chef Neha Mishra, who won a Bib Gourmand for her Dubai restaurant. The broths are hearty, the noodles are bouncy & fresh, and the sides (wagyu skewers, miso aubergine, burnt butter scallops, etc.) are absolutely delicious. Our recommendation? Go for the classic shoyu chicken broth ramen with slices of tenderloin, and get some of the wagyu skewers to pair with it. They’re unbeatably good together.
Details: Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL | Book here
Shoryu | Across London
Shoryu spotlights the Hakata (a ward of Fukuoka) style of tonkotsu, which is characterised by straight, thin noodles and a heavy-hitting, 12-hour thick white pork soup. Each bowl is adorned with a gooey nitamago Burford brown egg and they’ve flexed their creative muscles with the profiles – see the ‘Piri-Piri, as well as the plant-based ‘White Natural’ that uses tonyu soy milk, miso, kombu and shiitake mushroom as its base. Even if you’re an upstanding member of the hardcore ramen brigade, both are worth treading off the beaten path for. We a-shoryu…
Details: Multiple locations | Book here
Bone Daddies | Across London
Sure, you might consider Bone Daddies to be the Pizza Express of ramen: they’re everywhere, they’re affordable,
and they give you little paper hats. But just because they’re not a one-of-a-kind ramen-ya squirrelled away on a backstreet doesn’t mean they’re churning out average bowls: their base is still made over 20 hours in their Bermondsey broth factory. Aside from the familiar toppings, Bone Daddies also collaborates with a different London restaurant every month, with frequently surprising fusion results. Right now, Caribbean collective Jam Delish have come up with a vegan number featuring ‘goat’, bell peppers and curry sauce, served with brothless mazemen noodles.
Details: Across London| Book here
Uzumaki | Bloomsbury
Uzumaki serves ramen that is frankly way better than it needs to be in this touristy but slightly underserved patch of London. It’s an absolute haven for any self-confessed otaku, with its vast three-wall mural of colourful characters from manga and anime. But honestly, you’ll have a great time here even if the menu references are going straight over your head. Broth bases include beef & chicken, pork, shiitake and miso (so veggies and halal diners can still get their ramen fix), with eight variations of toppings available too.
Details: 107 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NB | Book here
Monohon (literally ‘the real deal’) Ramen tells the wholesome tale of a man who lived in Japan for a while and became wrapped up in ramen, slurping his way around various cities before coming home to set up his very own ramen bar on Old Street. In Ian Wheatley’s eyes, what goes into the bowl really does matter. The noods, for instance, are hand-made with imported Japanese flour, and the pork-bone broth (bursting with umami thanks to kelp and shiitake mushroom) is boiled for a minimum of 24 hours. Even the humble egg has been given the precision treatment – cooked for exactly six minutes and ten seconds (nothing more, nothing less) and left to marinate for a further two days. There’s no shortcuts here…
Details: 102 Old Street, EC1V 9AY | No bookings
Hakata | Bermondsey
Hakata brings Fukuoka’s famed tonkotsu ramen to Bermondsey Street, in a dark, industrial setting with a NYC edge. And we don’t just mean that in a romantic, figurative sense – a lot of the ingredients have been brought here directly from the Japanese prefecture. Most bowls also come in vegan options, and there’s a lot to boost your ramen with here: steamed hirata buns, sandos, gyoza and the like. They don’t take reservations, but you’ll likely be more than happy to wait as they seat you in their basement izakaya for a little pre-dinner sake.
Details: 177 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UW | No bookings
Ramen Yokochō | Leicester Square & Mayfair
If your grasp of the ramen language is limited, don’t fret, you’ll leave an expert from Ramen Yokochō. It serves regional recipes from the length of Japan – everything from Sapporo’s miso-heavy broth to Hakodate’s shio, Tokyo’s shoyu and tantanmen and, of course, Italy’s vegan Napoli. The menu helpfully details the when and where of each variation, as well as the type of broth and noodles.
An ode to the alleyways of ‘70s Japan, the restaurants themselves are a lively mishmash of lanterns, lucky cats and J-pop. Although, if the only thing you feel like conversing with is your bowl of ramen, you can also book a shuchu (focused booths that give solo diners one-on-one time with their desired dish).
Details: 8 Heddon Street, W1B 4BU | 35a Panton Street, SW1Y 4EA | Book here
Obsessed with Japanese food? Then you might find this guide to the best sushi restaurants in London interesting…