There aren't many things in life more comforting than a big old bowl of ramen. A hug from your mum? Maybe. An episode of Saturday Kitchen when you're nursing a particularly pangy hangover? Perhaps. Having a positive bank account balance? We genuinely wouldn't know about that one, mate. What we do know is that the intoxicating combo of a rich broth with perfect, chewy noodles is something we find ourselves fantasizing about multiple times throughout the day. So much so that it distracts us from our actual work. Which is writing guides like this. Ironic, right?
Legend has it that ramen was introduced to Japan by Chinese immigrants around the late 19th or early 20th century. The hearty dish is a riff on traditional Chinese wheat noodles that has not only been embraced as a staple of the Japanese diet but has also seen itself officially recognised as one of the country's national dishes alongside sushi and curry.
It's not hard to see why. Ramen is ideal for when you're in need of a quick, simple and satisfying meal. Hell, it's become such a sought-after hit of instant umami that you can even find ramen vending machines strewn across Japan. London has yet to embrace the 'Soup x Noodles' vending machine operation (though if there any angel investors out there: hit us up!) but it has welcomed ramen culture when it comes to a range of excellent (and less excellent) bricks-and-mortar restaurants.
Keen to try one of the best ramens in London? You've got a job on your hands. There are a lot of ramens in London, and a lot of good ramens, at that. To ensure that you find yourself in rich ramen heaven rather than watery ramen hell, we've collated this guide to the very best ramen in London, worth adding to your "must-eat" list.
13 best ramens in London to try
If you're looking for a consistent, quality bowl of ramen, then any one of the nine Tonkotsu premises spread across the city are worth a visit. The classic tonkotsu ramen shimmers with a toupée of pork fat, bursting with moreish punch and crunchy bean sprouts. But that's not where the fun stops. Oh, no. Tonkotsu also houses multiple mid-century noodle-making machines imported from Japan and employs a store-wide policy that its noodles are cooked exactly 32 seconds. That precision is what provides the ideal elastic snap we always look for in a noodle – a bite and chew you simply won't get from a packet of Indomie. Tonkotsu's reliability is one of the main reasons it serves one of the best ramens in London.
Established in 2012 under the creative vision of Tak Tokumine and Kanji Furukawa, Shoryu Ramen delivers an authentic tonkotsu ramen that holds its roots in Hakata, Japan. The City's eager noodlers on the hunt for the best ramen in London have been quick to catch on. Shoryu's meaty 12-hour pork broth comes topped with char siu barbecue pork belly and an oozing nitamago egg. It's damned good. However, what further separates Shoryu from the crowd is its vegan 'White Natural' ramen bowl. The latter sees Shoryu's ramen wizards work with a unique tonyu soy milk, miso and shiitake broth to create a dish that's so umami vegans will be baffled how it contains not a single animal by-product.
102 Old Street, EC1V 9AY
'Monohon' is a Japanese slang term that roughly translates to mean "the real thing". Monohon Ramen is – as its name would suggest – a joint that delivers a ramen shop vibe about as close as you'll get to the real deal in our capital (hence why Foodism knows it serves one of the best ramens in London, stat). The atmosphere is busy and bustling, the beer is cold, and the tub-sized bowls of ramen are the perfect manna for whatever sort of fix you've found yourself in. It doesn't hurt that Monohon's founder, Ian Wheatley, spent time living in Osaka in the '90s and dedicated considerable months of his life to researching the dish in Japan before opening up his Old Street noodle shop in 2015. Wheatley is pretty much London's answer to Ivan Orkin. For good reason, too. The noodles at Monohon have the perfect amount of bite and the broth (made with pork bones, kelp and shiitake mushrooms) is so good we'd happily bathe our entire bodies in it.
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There are (SLURP) a lot of (SMACK) reasons why (SCOFF) you should go to Kanada-Ya. For one, it's an onomatopoeia of an eatery. Ordering a bowl of ramen at any of its busy premises feels a bit like walking straight into the (pork) belly of the beast; you'll be bombarded by smells and sounds that even the most abstemious individual will find it difficult to order small. If you do want to instill some skewed sense of restraint, Kanada-Ya's chicken paitan ramen uses a corn-fed chicken bone broth and is a lighter, easier drinker than the richer, pork-heavy offerings on the menu. Regardless of what dish you decide is going to be your maker on the day, we'd recommend grabbing a chilled cup of sake as a side-car to your dinner and strapping yourself in for one of the best ramens in London. Enjoy.
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Having first opened up its Brewer Street premises in 1999, Taro is a true O.G. of the London ramen scene. The egg noodles at Taro are thinner than a lot of the noods you'll find at other more modern joints – and the broth is soy rather than meat-based – but don't let that make you think for a second that there's not some top, top ramen to be found here. Taro opened the door for a lot of people in the ramen bizz and remains an undeniable trendsetter of the game that's still relevant today. For that reason alone it's worth bowing your head over a bowl of Taro's shoyu ramen and paying homage to a London lunch and dinner institution. Another pretty good reason is that Taro's ramen is bloody lovely.
Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PU
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Koi Ramen's mission statement is all about providing Londoners with high quality ramen at an almost too-good-to-be-true price. It fulfils that statement, and then some. For just £6.50 you can get your chops in (and around) a bowl of miso pork ramen at Koi's hugely popular Pop Brixton container. Pull up a seat at the bar, order yourself an ice-cold Sapporo to go with your ramen of choice and wait for the realisation to dawn upon you that – sitting here with umami-laden broth dripping down your chin – you'll never Google 'best ramens in London' again.
As the debut London branch of this lauded Japenese ramen chain, Central Saint Giles' Ippudo (which opened in 2014) was the first to ever grace European shores. It's unsurprising to find out that there are now multiple Ippudo across London alone. Taking over two floors of real estate, Ippudo's original outlet still means business and it's the little touches that make all the difference here. It's the perfectly soft-boiled egg that comes marinated in Ippudo's special homemade sauce, floating atop your ramen bowl like a tourist bobbing on the dead sea, and the ability to select the firmness of your noodles which take the eating experience up a level. While there are a lot of them, every ramen option at Ippudo is crafted with care and balance; each ingredient's presence having been mulled over and chosen to deliver a specific purpose for a very specific reason. The very specific reason you should go to Ippudo is a lot more simple: you won't be disappointed.
8 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, SE1 3SU
Texas… ramen. Ramen… from Texas. Ramen with cowboy boots. Ramen with a southern drawl. Ramen that loves nothing more than blasting country music with the windows down on its pick-up truck. While this might seem like a pretty strange combination, trust us when we tell you that Kaubōi Ramen's fusion of American smoked meats and Japanese noodle soup really, really works. Just look at the two unique ramen they serve for proof: the Texan Tonkotsu contains a creamy pork broth topped with Dr Pepper marinated and oak-smoked pork belly; the eponymous Kaubōi Ramen is a beef-bone shoyu broth topped with a grilled slice of smoked USDA beef brisket. Both break down the facets of salt, fat, acid, and heat to create a dish that delivers all the chemical satisfaction you desire from a bowl of ramen. What makes these noodles all the more impressive is how they're prepared in what's supposedly the "world's smallest ramen kitchen" located inside Bermondsey's Flying W Saloon. The Lone Star State should be damn proud of this export.
Menya Ramen House
29 Museum Street, Holborn WC1A 1LH
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Head to Holborn and settle down for a satisfying lunch at this gem of a noodle shop. Menya Ramen House is no-frills in the best way possible: a sensible smock of an eatery that knows exactly what its job is, and does that job very, very well. Opt for the spicy broth to bless your brow with a sheen that'll match the glistening maroon of the chilli oil you're supping; an experience that delivers an addictive scoville catharsis in firm noodle form. Our personal favourite dish is the seafood sundubu ramen. It's not so much soup as it is a stew of fresh crab and mussels swimming in an olympic-sized pool of moreish broth. Menya Ramen House is not somewhere you'll only visit once—it truly serves one of the best ramens in town. Trust us on that.
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We'll admit that it's kind of hard to go wrong with pork fat. Pork scratchings, pork crackling, pork chicharrones – you name a pork fat product and we're guaranteed to want to snaffle it in our gobs. That being said, the delicacy that Cocoro is able to gift to its wonderfully fatty char siu pork is sensational. Using a traditional kumamoto pig bone broth, Cocoro's ramen is the epitome of rich; its pockets stuffed with wads of flavour. Not that you have to be particularly wealthy to eat here yourself. The ramen lunch set menu is great value for money and come with an appetiser and seasonal fruit selection alongside your bowl of goodness. With a selection of over 500 sakes and ume plum wines also available, rest assured that your ramen won't be wanting for alcoholic company.
157 Kentish Town Road, NW1 8PD
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If you're tired of eating at restaurants that smugly pride themselves on "authenticity", you should make your way to Kentish Town for a wonderfully untraditional ramen that infuses the Japanese staple with Pinoy flavours of the Philippines. Unique ramen like oxtail kare kare and lamb tantanmen are a shining example of what fusion cuisine is capable of. Ramo Ramen is a restaurant that playfully thumbs its nose at tradition to provide an eating experience that's truly one-of-a-kind. And, while they might find fault with the inclusion of ingredients like Bangladeshi lime and crispy chicharrones, even the most ardent of traditionalists won't be able to deny how delicious the food at Ramo Ramen is.
338 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8QH
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Located a short amble from Brixton Village, Okan Ramen is not a restaurant to take lightly. By which we mean you should go heavy when you're in there and order all of the nibbles on its menu. Okan's signature Tokyo shoyu ramen is a soy-based clear chicken broth topped with sliced pork, a golden nitamago egg, fresh bean sprouts and spring onion. Genuine chicken soup for the soul, that ramen. Real mum-cooing-and-stroking-your-hair-there-there fare. Good for just about everyone, Okan has got Kirin on tap for those feeling a little indulgent and a wheat-free vegan ramen option for those who are feeling, well, not. Best ramen in London, sorted.
426 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LF
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Tim Anderson's Nanban specialises in Japanese soul food from the southern island of Kyushu. It's an ethos that the Brixton Market favourite embraces wholeheartedly. All of the food at Nanban arrives with a care and attention that's as endearing as it is indulgent. The lazy goat ragù-men is Nanban's signature bowl: slow-cooked boneless goat leg and thick noodles in a rich Indo-Caribbean curry sauce, topped with seafood sawdust, fried shallots, Scotch bonnet-pickled bamboo shoots, and a tea-pickled egg. If that sounds atypical: it's because it is. If that sounds delicious: it's because it is. Nanban doesn't do anything in half measures. Pay it a visit for flavour that's full-on delightful.