If you’re a die hard ramen fan, Kanada-Ya is definitely one for your bucket list. Actually sod that, just go
Just when you thought the ramen revolution had peaked, the big guns from Japan have arrived. First Kanada-Ya sprang up on St. Giles High Street, closely followed by Ippudo – directly across the road. What an amazing coincidence.
Kanada-Ya has branches in Yukuhashi in Japan and Hong Kong and as far as I’m aware, it’s the first truly authentic ramen chain to open up in London. This was an opening that really got me interested.
The restaurant is small and very erm… white, seating 20-odd people. If you squint, you could easily mistake the interior for a fro-yo shop. Not really a place meant for lingering but it’s a decent fuss free (or solo) dining option. We got there just after 5pm and were able to walk in, however I’ve heard that others have endured hour long queues at busy times.
The menu is very short, offering only three types of ramen, all of which are made using the same broth. Their tonkotsu recipe is created by Kanada Kazuhiro and differentiates itself from others due to the pork bones being washed thoroughly before boiling.
The variants on the menu are the cut and amount of pork, plus additional toppings, such as beansprouts. Hanjuku egg is an add-on but this was fine by us as at least it meant you got a whole one. Half eggs always seem stingy. Noodles are served extra-hard, hard, regular or soft. I asked the server which was most popular and was told that Japanese customers prefer their ramen hard. Good enough for me too then.
Having seen numerous pictures on Instagram, I gathered that the Chasiu men comes with the most meat on top and was sold on ordering it before I walked in the door. See, research is important. The broth was rich and creamy, without being too viscous or sticky. As you can see, the tea-stained egg was perfectly cooked and very enjoyable, as was the ‘hard’ ramen which had a nice springiness to it. I can’t think of many better or more comforting things to eat on a cold, wet winter’s day.
We also had the salmon onigiri; warm rice balls filled with cooked salmon wrapped in a piece of nori. These were perfectly fine but probably not interesting enough to order again. Drinks were limited to tea and cold non-alcoholic drinks, that’s right – no beer or sake. We did get to try some ultra-sweet Japanese lemonade, served in a mind-bogglingly complicated bottle that the server had to open on my behalf.
So far (and I haven’t been to Ippudo yet) this is the best ramen I’ve eaten in London. No mean feat considering how many good bowlfuls of pig there are out there – the likes of Shoryu, Tonkotsu, Bone Daddies and Nanban (when it pops up) are certainly no slouches. If you’re a die hard ramen fan, Kanada Ya is definitely one for your bucket list. Actually sod that, just go.
Meal for two excluding service: £37.80
Address: 64 St Giles High Street WC2H 8LE
Tel: 0207 240 0232