Heddon Yokocho

8 Heddon Street

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What’s the draw

Ramen in London comes in many forms, and there are a few restaurant groups in the capital that have helped this Japanese pulled noodle soup in bone broth go from a fringe dish to a staple of the scene as the food of Japan gets better understood and explored. Who better, then, to launch an all-new type of ramen spot than the iconic retailer Japan Centre: bringing its extensive expertise in Japanese ingredients – in addition to years of experience running ramen restaurant group Shoryu – to the 1970s-inspired Ramen Yokocho, which has two sites in the capital. The Heddon Street venue is all about throwback Tokyo style – loungey deep red booths, paper lanterns, neon signage and the occasional Gojira (Godzilla)-themed pop-up. Yes, really.

What to drink

Many people will tell you that the best accompaniment to a bowl of warming ramen is an ice-cold bottle of Kirin Ichiban or Asahi Super Dry, and who are we to tell them they’re wrong? The list here extends quite a bit further, though, with plenty of cocktail action – from safe bets like Aperol Spritzes, G&Ts and highballs with Japanese whisky to those like the Momojito, where Japanese and white rums are mixed with lime, mint and a touch of peach. A comprehensive sake list is arguably the crowning glory, though, highlighting sake from top-name brewers including Gekeikkan and Kuheiji, from cloudy Nigori to a flowery, aromatic Gekeikkan Daiginjo, with flights available for those who want to explore a range across the spectrum. Outside of the alcohol, the headline act is a melon cream soda popular in Japan, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Yokocho ramen at Heddon Yokocho
Yokocho ramen at Heddon Yokocho

What to eat

Those who’ve eaten ramen across the capital for the last few years will no doubt be familiar with hakata tonkotsu ramen – hand-pulled noodles in a broth enriched by pork bones, usually served with slices of pork belly and other accoutrements – brought to the mainstream by Shoryu among others. You’ll find that here, but the Yokocho ramen is the star of the show: soy and chicken giving a lighter body to the broth while still providing an umami punch, while pork and a naruto fishcake jostle for position with nori seaweed, cabbage, fudgy boiled egg and other trimmings. Sides-wise, you’re in kara-age town – soy, garlic and ginger-marinated chicken thigh coated in flour, deep-fried until crispy and served with unctuous lime mayo – while there’s plenty else to snack on before your main, from steamed and fried gyoza to spicy wings, sushi and sashimi and more. Fill your boots.

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