London’s Japanese food scene, and ramen in particular, has really taken off in the past 10 years. There’s numerous places to grab warming, comforting bowls of slow-cooked broth and noodles all over the city. We’ve toiled tirelessly to find you some of the tastiest, and best-loved bowls in town. From central London to small, neighbourhood joints and counter-eating: here’s our round up of the best ramen in London. Happy slurping!
Monohon Ramen, Old Street – Neighbourhood joint, serious about broth
At first glance, Monohon has all the ingredients of being painfully hip. It’s located between Old Street and the Barbican, you can’t book, people are prepared to queue up outside for over 30 minutes, even on the coldest of days to eat there. And the most popular dish here? Abura Soba, a soup-less ramen. Owner Ian Wheatley lived in Osaka in the 90s and fell in love with the food long before it became popular in the UK. Thankfully, this low-key east London ramen joint more than lives up to the hype, and the ramen here is worth the wait.
Having started life as a pop-up, it’s now a well-established local restaurant where the noodles are made daily from Japanese wheat flour. Service is friendly, and it’s worth eating at the counter, surrounded by the bustle and aroma of the lively kitchen. Its small size means it’s not ideal for big groups (2-3 max), it really is all about the broth here, and the classic Shoyu Tonkotsu creamy pork bone broth hit the spot on a chilly night. There are plenty of decent veggie and vegan options, but no gluten free options, (they’re die hard Japanese wheat flour purists, but can substitute rice for noodles for some dishes). Dishes range from £13.00–£18.00, the more expensive bowls are “Oomori” large and come with extra noodles.
Location: Old Street
Nearest station: Barbican or Old Street
Prices: £13.00–£18.00 per bowl
Panton Yokocho – Retro, fun and decent value
Run by the Japan Centre who also run Shoryu, Panton Yokocho is one of two restaurants that aim to deliver “a retro Tokyo ramen experience in London” – interiors (and exteriors, for that matter) certainly seems to live up to the brief. On arrival, you’re greeted by a giant ramen bowl and moving noodles. Inside is sensory overload, filled with lanterns, and 70’s pop culture posters and paraphernalia.
Luckily, the concept doesn’t come at the expense of the food (although service can be a little chaotic). Serving up regional ramen from across Japan including Sapporo Miso – a miso-based chicken and pork broth from the north and Kumamoto Tonkotsu, a pork broth with garlic oil in the south.
There’s also plenty of offers, like the pre-theatre set dinner which is two courses and a drink for £18.00. The drinks menu is filled with zingy boozy and boozless cocktails including Yuzu Jasmine Tea and Limencello Chuhai. It’s a great option for a cheap and cheerful mid-week catch up meal, or a pre-theatre or cinema dinner, and there are sibling branches on nearby Heddon Street in Westfield White City.
Location: Piccadilly Circus
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus
Prices: £13.00–£15.00 per bowl
Taro Soho – A decent Soho lunch spot
Mini chain Taro (there are also branches in Balham and Kennington) is a Taishu Shokudo which means something along the lines of ‘An everyday Japanese eatery’. And that’s as good a description as one needs. Staff are welcoming, and the walls are adorned with cute illustrations of Mr Taro and there are lots of family-gallery style photos lining them too.
Founded in 1999 by owner Mr Taro, the Soho branch on Brewer Street is its original restaurant. And judging by the fact it’s packed on a Monday lunchtime, it’s still a firm favourite for Japanese food in central London. Taro is actually better known for sushi and bento boxes. But Taro’s thin, soy based ramen is simple and tasty. The mixed veggie ramen has plenty of umami flavour, and there is also spicy ramen, seafood ramen, pork, beef and chicken options. And best of all? Not a boiled egg in sight.
Location(s): Soho (also Balham and Kennington)
Nearest station: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road
Prices: £13.00–£15.00 per bowl
Shoryu, Covent Garden (and all over London) – The crowd pleaser, best for low-key dinner with friends
We’ve tended to steer away from chains on this round-up, because a) let’s face it, they don’t really need the attention, and b) over-franchising often leads to dip in quality over time. But, we’re not snobs here, and chain ramen bars do tend to be large enough for group dinners and might also handle allergy requirements better than smaller places.
So with that preamble aside, reliable chain Shoryu sneaks its way into our round up, mainly on the strength of one dish alone. The miso wafu chicken ramen is a hearty bowl of comfort food. Large, tender pieces of fried karaage chicken add some bite and crunch, and there’s plenty of umami from the mushroom soy broth plus a decent amount of pickled ginger to boot.
Location(s): Multiple locations: including Covent Garden, Soho, and Shoreditch,
Prices: £13.00–£15.00 per bowl
Cocoro Highgate – Cosy neighbourhood restaurant and shop
Cocoro is a small chain of Japanese restaurants across London. The original branch opened in Marylebone in 2006 and the popularity of its Kumamoto pig bone ramen led to it opening a second branch in Bloomsbury. The third branch in Highgate is a cosy, neighbourhood joint off the busy Archway Road. It’s also a small shop where you can stock up on Japanese and Korean groceries including bags of frozen Gyoza, miso soybean paste, Kimchi, frozen edamame and assorted beverages.
It has a homely, local feel, soft jazz plays at a sociable volume while locals chatter, people bustle in and out to collect food orders, and families pitch up to sit at their usual tables. Cocoro also serves donburi, curry and other hot and cold dishes. The ramen menu includes veggie and meat options, and most bowls have a spicier option. The pork (tonkotsu) ramen with crispy karaage chicken is a warming, comforting antidote to a rainy, chilly London evening.
Prices: £11.00–£13.00 per bowl