We all love a bargain and there’s nothing quite like bagging a cheap dinner in central London. Shoryu Ramen looks to open our eyes to quality cooking at low prices, street food style.
Although it’s frustrating that no-reservations restaurants are always tiny, Shoryu Ramen does have an authenticity about it that often only diminutive Japanese restaurants can attain. The exterior is modern and sleek with white signage and lots of glass while inside the black walls and signs are given a homelier edge courtesy of exposed brick and wooden tables nestled against brown leather sofas. It’s a very simple set-up with the only real design flourish coming from the low-hanging lights over the bar. But when you're an ‘in and out’ quick-eats spot you really don’t need to spend a great deal of time creating the perfect look.
Shoryu operates a strict walk-ins only policy and the word has gotten out that the food here is both cheap and good, so you can expect a lengthy wait at the door. That said, it hasn’t reached the hour+ mark set by the likes of Bubbledogs, so it could be worse. To be sure of walking straight in you want to avoid weekends and peak after-work times when hungry bellies send Londoners out in search of sustenance.
There are two restaurants in the Shoryu group but this is the bigger of the two with a larger selection of food than its younger Soho sibling. It still revolves firmly around tonkotsu ramen with prices mainly below £10 a dish. Also, unlike the Soho branch, this restaurant does have one solitary veggie option. This is because the essence of the tonkotsu ramen is pork broth and barbecue pork and they like to keep it authentic.
If you want to enjoy a simple ramen but with a bit of added kick then opt for the piri piri tonkotsu (£9.90). This is formed from the standard base of pork broth, barbecue pork, egg, mushrooms, beansprouts, spring onions, sesame, ginger and nori but it’s given a spicy edge from a massive whack of bird's-eye chilli. This is more in keeping with the east-Asian love of spices and is not for the weak of heart. Alternatively, opt for the wasabi tonkotsu (£9.90), which replaces the ginger with wasabi oil and pickled wasabi leaves. Again, it is on the spicy side, but it’s not quite as intense as the peri peri version. Whichever you choose, however, it’s worth remembering that this is no mere watery soup. The broth is thick, rich and stew-like and is more than enough to fill even the hungriest stomach. If you want to bulk out your meal then go for additional sides. The Regent Street branch offers sushi and sashimi alongside the usual mix of dumplings and rice balls.
There is a huge selection of sake on offer at Shoryu Regent Street, above and beyond what you usually expect to see at a London-based Japanese restaurant. The prices are good, too, with bottles coming in at £19-£120 and glasses starting at £4.40. This is further bolstered by Shochu and Umeshu Plum Wine. Unlike Soho, Regent Street serves up a selection of Japanese-themed cocktails, such as a Wasabi Martini or Shochu Sour, which is inventive. If you really want to get merry then push the boat out and opt for the Japanese Whisky.
The Last Word
Shoryu Ramen has hit the cheap-eats nail on the head. Inexpensive, yet genuine quality.