Tonkotsu (Soho)

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The steam of Dean St
Convenient, easy, flavourful, Japanese and relatively inexpensive, this ramen and sake specialist Tonkotsu arrived in Soho in August 2012 to pretty much instant success. It's the latest venture of Japanese chef Ken Yamada and business partner Emma Reynolds, who made their name with the sushi-and-katsu Tsuru restaurants in the City and at Bankside. Just a few doors up from Old Compton St, opposite the Groucho Club, the two-floor Tonkotsu is very much the new Soho with its somewhat distressed (near-downbeat) look, concrete floors, mesh partitians and faux antique lighting. There are decorative wall hangings for a warmer effect, but the uncushy seating ensures a quick rather than comfy dining experience. Which does the trick in a pinch. Cooking happens at the front, with steam emanating from the open windows onto the pavement for a certain Tokyo effect. Portions are decent and the food is tasty and hearty — noodles are home-made and the tonkotsu style guarantees a murky and dense broth — though local 'competitor' Shoruy [see entry] offers perhaps a richer and more refined broth in this genre. A second Tonkotsu can be found in East London's Haggerston (north of Hoxton) at Arch 334, 1a Dunston Street, while a third branch opened in January 2015 at 382 Mare St in Hackney. Then Bankside and Notting Hill and Battersea etc. Plus a 14-seat counter at Selfridges department store.