Tonkotsu East. Slurp away.

Food  / 
Tonkotsu East interior. credit Jason Bailey

Tonkotsu East interior. Credit Jason Bailey

Do you like having a behind the scenes view in a restaurant?

Dine in Tonkotsu East and you can check out the ‘viewing room’ of its chef prepping your ramen. There’s a no nonsense, contemporary feel to the décor: bricked walls and arched ceiling, paired with large lanterns.

Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish served in a meat bone infused broth, usually flavoured with salt, soy or miso and topped with exciting combinations of meat and vegetables. Most regions in Japan have their own variations of ramen and it’s a treat to explore this in Tonkotsu East.

Back to that viewing room, it’s quite an unusual and impressive sight – the chef enigmatically prepping away at an even more curious noodle machine – it’s also a sight that’s forgotten immediately once your starters arrive.

Starters include Gyoza, Korokke – Japanese style croquettes, Prawn Katsu and more. We tuck into tasty Gyoza – translucent, delicate dumplings with a choice of prawn, pork or shiitake (try the meaty and flavoursome pork!) and the edamame beans are equally delicious – perfectly balanced with the crunch of sea salt.

Once you’re done, you’re ready for the main attraction – the ramen. This is in itself as much an experience to get it all in, as it is tasting the composition of flavours and textures.


Tonkotsu Ramen. Prawn Gyoza.

Tonkotsu Ramen. Prawn Gyoza.

Whether you choose to slurp on your ramen or not – my guest did, I didn’t, much to his disgust – you’ll find no one really cares, especially if you spill a bit (that was me). Tonkotsu describe slurping and ‘hoovering’ the broth as a highly pleasurable experience. On hindsight, I say go for it.

You can choose from the Tokyo ramen, a soy sauce, chicken and pork bone broth; the Tonkotsu, a sea salt and pork bone broth or the Shimeji, Shiitake and Miso ramen – a miso based broth. Each have their own different toppings to complement the characteristics of the broth.

My Tonkotsu is a hybrid of tastes: from the silky clean broth to the salty pork belly slices; the fresh beansprouts and spring onions, to the Nitamago egg (half a soft boiled, seasoned egg). The Tokyo ramen has a heartier feel and extra flavours: the soy sauce adds extra depth and taste to the broth.

Never has a soup looked so beautiful – from that almost translucent broth to the colourful toppings and textures. Both are satisfyingly rich and filling (emphasis on the filling).

If you’re ready to stretch a bit further and try dessert there’s either a creme brûlée or a fresh fruit tart (ok, both are surprising dessert choices considering the rest of the menu, yes) but my apple tart was light, crispy and sweet, a refreshing end to an intense feast.

My verdict – I’d go again. Slurping included.

Value for money: About £30 a head including 3 courses plus drinks and service.

Tonkotsu Bar & Ramen, 63 Dean Street, London W1D 4QG

Tonkotsu East, Arch 334, 1a Dunston Street, London E8 4EB


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