Shoryu Ramen is a popular ramen chain serving Tonkotsu ramen in London, Manchester and Oxford. Tak Tokumine, the founder of Japan Centre opened the first restaurant in 2012 and there’s a seal of approval if any. As Tak’s hometown is Fukuoka, unsurprisingly Shoryu has been focused on creating authentic Tonkotsu ramen since the start. Their rich pork broth has delighted many including Michelin and Shoryu has featured in the Michelin Guide for four years.
We’ve actually tried the ramen at both their Oxford and Manchester branches and were impressed on both occasions. You can read our review of their Manchester restaurant in Piccadilly Gardens here. Sides aside, the Tonkotsu ramen we enjoyed had the flavour profile and depth that you can expect in Japan. While it didn’t get to the levels of Ippudo or Kanada-ya, it certainly was a reliable candidate if you were in the mood for ramen. However our recent visit to the Regent Street branch has cast some doubt in our minds about this particular branch.
- Shoryu Interior
- Gyoza and Takoyaki Starters
- Shoryu Ramen – Kotteri Hakata
- Our Rating
Located half way between Picadilly Circus and the Mall, the Regent Street branch certainly keeps to its upscale surroundings. Compared to many other ramen restaurants we’ve seen so far in London it has a carefully designed interior. The seating area is made up of varnished wooden tables and a counter area with small lanterns overhead. You then have a nod to traditional Japanese restaurants with the Shoryu logo on a noren fabric cloth above the door and a giant blackboard covering the back wall. On this blackboard, you get the full explanation behind Shoryu and its Hakata ramen, plus a description of all the ramen ingredients. The fact someone has written and drawn this out in chalk does give that feel of Japan.
Meanwhile the bar area with curved light fittings and see-through glass shelves looks stylish. You can see they have plenty of hand sanitiser for those who need it! Also like other Shoryu restaurants, there is a drum on top of the bar too. Every time new customers come through the door, the staff beat this drum and shout “Irrashaimase” which means welcome in Japanese.
What starters did we order?
We think gyoza dumplings enhances any trip to a ramen restaurant. Of course in the UK, the price of a plate of gyoza is often triple that of a plate in Japan. Shoryu’s 6 pieces will set you back £8.50 which is more than the combined cost of a ramen plus a gyoza plate in Japan! We were hoping that their Gyoza was going to be high quality. On first appearance things were looking good as they were served on a Tetsunabe iron pan and had the crispy coating you associate with Gyoza. Unfortunately the dumplings themselves were mediocre. The skins were super thin and the small amount of filling inside seemed scant. My Japanese friend even thought the quality of these gyoza was probably worse than the dumplings you can get at a Japanese supermarket. Another friend commented on the dumpling they ate being slightly overburnt and bitter.
The other starter dish we got was the Takoyaki octopus balls. Below you can see a photo I took at a very favourable angle to the side. If you look directly from above the Takoyaki were hard to see under the mountain of bonito flakes. The octopus pieces inside were also tiny. Perhaps this is deliberate as not everyone likes octopus. The focus seemed to be the batter and the extremely liberal amounts of Takoyaki sauce and sweet Japanese mayonaise added on top. We found these Takoyaki disappointing and we can only hope this was a mistake.
How good is the Tonkotsu at Shoryu Ramen?
Shoryu have their signature Ganso Tonkotsu and a Kotteri Hakata Tonkotsu bowl. Kotteri means a richer and thicker broth and of course most of us ordered this. Our server asked us how firm we wanted our noodles and we went with the barikata (very firm) option. We were excited as not all ramen restaurants offer the options that Shoryu does. They even have Konaotoshi which is a super quick cooking of the noodles where they remove the flour coating.
We were definitely excited when the bowls arrived. The presentation was generally good but my bowl had a large chip on the side. How was the Kotteri broth? Well honestly it was not thick at all and the richness was at a lower level than a regular Tonkotsu broth at many ramen restaurants in London. This was disappointing and I wondered if the Ganso Tonkotsu might have been a better option. However the noodles were good – thin and straight with enough chewiness. The flour they use for the noodles is milled specially in Fukuoka which explain this part. We couldn’t say the noodles were truly barikata though. They were firmer than usual but not to the degree of hardness you have in Japan.
When it came to the toppings, the three chashu pork belly slices tasted plain but fatty which again was a downer. Meanwhile, the spring onions and kikurage were fresh and crisp and did bring some excitement back to the bowl. The best topping was the nitamago egg. This Burford Brown egg was perfectly cooked with a very pleasing orange hue and a creamy texture. Another plus point was the garlic and crusher provided. While we didn’t use it, this is great to see and probably will enhance the broth if you are a garlic fan.
Our rating of Shoryu Ramen
It’s not easy to write a review that is critical. We genuinely want all our reviews to be positive and supporting Japanese restaurants in London and across the UK. However we have to be honest and where things need improving surely any reader would want to know.
We would give our visit to the Regent Street branch 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Now first we want to say the staff were amazing all evening – they were attentive and friendly and gave omotenashi service. This branch like other Shoryu restaurants is well designed and has a comfortable atmosphere and it’s certainly a place where you can enjoy a meal with your friends. Also it is one of the few ramen restaurants in London where you can reserve tables for 4 or 5 people.
What brought our rating down was unfortunately the food. The Kotteri Ramen in particular as well as the starter dishes. Perhaps our expectations were too high? As we entered, a happy group left exclaiming that the ramen was amazing which might have added to this along with all the Michelin guide stickers. As mentioned before, we have had good Tonkotsu experiences at Shoryu before so potentially this is a one off. But we would need to also add that one of us has been to this very same branch before and had a similar experience in terms of Tonkotsu quality.
We hope that the next time we try the food at Shoryu Regent Street we will have a better experience. If you have visited recenetly please let us know how your ramen was in the comments below. Also if you are searching for more restaurants serving Tonkotsu, please check our list of the top ramen restaurants in London.