Bone Daddies ramen bar, London: my review

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This place was on my list of ramen to try (see my idea here) since I read a while ago that Jonathan Ross crowned it as the best ramen bar in town. Well, considering that Bone Daddies’ director, Ross Shonan, is the former executive chef from Nobu and Zuma the success is assured.

I know, I’m always late and I should have visited Bone Daddies at that time, but I somehow trusted Jonathan Ross’ opinion as a connoisseur of Japan and its culture, so I left it on my list as the last one to try. Needless to mention how high my expectations had grown in the meantime. Finally, one freezing Friday of January I had the chance to verify if Bone Daddies’ ramen actually were the best noodle in town.

The downside of popular places is they are always packed with people, especially on Friday nights, so it can’t be helped but joining the long queue outside. Waiting is never pleasant, but in this case it was also painful considering the sub-zero temperature of the night. Anyway the staff managed brilliantly by offering us hot sake shots. Nice move, Bone Daddies, nice move.

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Can you spot me?

Finally our turn to get in. The interior is characterised by bold red and white walls decorated by Japanese rockabilly subculture related prints, the main theme of this ramen bar.

Unfortunately the dim lights affected the quality of the pictures I took, therefore thanks to this photo belonging to The Guardian, you can see what the place looks like in a natural light and without people.

 

Credits: The Guardian

Materials used are wood and steel, in line with the latest tendencies for places that target young professionals and creatives as their bracket of customers.

Packed.

Packed.

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We were seated next to a group of Korean girls that I shamelessly spied, to grasp the secret of holding the chopsticks correctly. Yes after studying Japan, its culture, after being to Japan twice, after having Japanese friend I talk to all the time, after cooking Japanese food at home, when it comes to ramen I still have problems managing my noodles not to slip off my chopsticks. Unfortunately the secret is not really a secret, it’s just practice.

We chose to order a classic ramen and a popular one, in order to see how the place interprets a standard and well known (among the Japanese food aficionados) recipe and how the same staff uses their creativity to innovate their noodle dish, to make it trendy, to make it viral as they say. According to this personal point of view we chose a Tonkotsu ramen, the classic one with its 20 hour pork bone broth, chashu pork and marinated soft boiled egg. As for popular dish we got a T22 with chicken bone broth, soy ramen, chicken and cock scratchings which seem to be pretty popular on reviews around the internet.

While waiting for the order to be ready, I looked around and I noticed behind me some shelves with sake on the top one and homemade shochu on the bottom one. Surely cherry and lemongrass and lime shochu are not really traditional flavour choices, so I think Bone Daddies’ staff should be acknowledged for their creativity and their will to experiment.

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Cherry Shochu

Cherry Shochu and lemongrass and lime at the left.

A shiny plastic thing folded in a decorated steel glass immediately caught my eye. I was a giant plastic bib with Bone Daddies logo on it. Usually ramen bars in Japan provide their customers with these bib to protect their clothes from splashes of broth, so everyone can enjoy their noodles without bending their back weirdly and awkwardly. Yes that’s what I normally do here in London when I go out for ramen.

Da bib!

Da bib!

So the bib thing brought me immediately back to Japan,  because it means authenticity, and I give you kudos for this, Bone Daddies!

Enough is enough, let’s go straight with the main dish, shall we?

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My Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu ramen – I admit the first taste of the broth left me a bit puzzled because it wasn’t piping hot to the point of burning the tip of the tongue, leaving it numb. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it, but this means the soup would turn cold in no time. Aside from the temperature, the flavour was rich, full with almost creamy texture given by the collagen of the pork bones. I usually am a bit fussy with this kind of broth because as soon as my tastebuds touch it I know if I’m really going to digest it. It’s just a sensation, in fact if it leaves a greasy feeling in my mouth it’s a no-no. This time the broth passed the exam and exactly as I predicted I had no problem digesting it. The noodles were thin but with a nice bite and both the pork and eggs were perfect and full of flavour.

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T22

 

T22

T22

T22 – This dish was different, that’s why G and I chose it. The broth was lighter, more transparent than pork one, but in order to contrast the delicate flavour I could taste a strong sesame oil, soy sauce and some chili pepper in the back ground. As for the toppings, the famous cock scratchings (every time I say it I chuckle a bit), they added crunch and texture to the dish.

My vote: 8.5.A satisfying interpretation of a classic recipe and a nice attempt to convey creativity into something new, younger and fresher. I don’t feel like giving a higher vote because I would have preferred the broth a little bit hotter, but this is really a minor flaw. What really matters is flavour and I can assure you won’t be disappointed with that. Is Bone Daddies really the best ramen bar in town? Maybe, but I believe it’s still a draw with Ippudo in my opinion, in my opinion even though the two differ in various aspects of the preparation.

I will tell you more in my next post about the 5 places to eat ramen in London.

Stay tuned!

Bone Daddies Ramen Bar 31 Peter St, London W1F 0AR 

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Monthly ranking: 5 ways to eat asparagus you’re gonna love!

Asparagus

Photo: Liz West

So, I just realised April is already over. Time really flies quickly before you can even realise it, but let’s not talk about the brevity of life, instead let’s learn to enjoy its little pleasures. As you may imagine I’m talking about food, and today I’d like to focus on a seasonal vegetable, to be more specific.

For me spring means asparagus. I love their comforting mellow taste that can easily turn bitter, therefore I try to eat as much as possible now that they’re in season. Of course I try to forget that the consumption of asparagus causes urine to have a funny smell, but unfortunately my body constantly reminds me of it.

In theory there’s only one month left in the asparagus season so I hope you will take advantage of this time and the tips I am about to share. As I mentioned in the previous post, this is not a blog about recipes so take the following list as simple directions that can be easily adapted to your taste.

I recommend to use thin asparagus as they are often more flavourful, but be careful, because if they’re not fresh, they might taste bitter.

 

  1. Asparagus Frittata: slice the asparagus and boil or steam them until tender. Then sauté in olive oil and set aside. In a bowl mix eggs, grated Parmigiano, salt, pepper and, finally the asparagus. Heat a couple of spoons of olive oil and pour the mixture into a frying pan. Flip the frittata when the bottom is done.
  2. Asparagus Risotto: This recipe from Jamie Oliver is worth trying even though it’s not really the way I do it (celery and asparagus with mint and lemon, anyone?), but hey, I’m not here to judge!
  3. Asparagus Quiche: why not adding asparagus to your quiche lorraine? can you imagine the taste of that heavenly combination called bacon and asparagus? I definitely can! Bring this quiche to your picnic and your friend won’t thank you enough.
  4. Asparagus au gratin with Parmigiano and crunchy Parma Ham: Preheat the oven at 180° and line your baking tray with some foil. Drizzle some olive oil and place your asparagus on the tray. Dust with bread crumbs, grated Pamigiano, salt, pepper and shredded Parma Ham. Drizzle again with olive oil and bake until the bread crumbs turn crunchy.
  5. Asparagus salad with pearl barley and prawns: Ok this recipe requires multitasking abilities, are you ready? Let’s go. Cook the pearl barley according to the instructions on the package, then rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. In the meantime steam the asparagus and sauté the prawns with olive oil, garlic and a pinch of chili pepper. When your three ingredients are ready, combine them in a bowl and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you have questionable tastes like I have, add some freshly squeezed lemon juice, which in my opinion adds a nice acidity to the overall flavour.

Enjoy!

 

And now in Italian.

Aprile è già finito. Certe volte il tempo vola talmente in fretta che è impossibile rendersene conto. Cerchiamo di non parlare di quanto la vita sia breve, ma piuttosto impariamo a godere dei suoi piccoli piaceri. E di quali piaceri dovrei parlare, se non di cibo? Oggi vorrei concentrarmi su una verdura di stagione.

Per me Primavera vuol dire asparagi. Amo il loro sapore delicato che può facilmente diventare amaro, quindi cerco di mangiarne il più possibile ora che sono in stagione. Naturalmente tendo a  dimenticare che il consumo di asparagi provochi qualche strana reazione al nostro sistema urinario, ma purtroppo il mio corpo me lo ricorda costantemente.

In teoria, gli asparagi saranno reperibili ancora per un mese, quindi spero potrete approfittare di questo lasso di tempo e dei suggerimenti che sto per condividere. Come ho detto nel post precedente, questo non è un blog di ricette, perciò prendete questo elenco come delle semplici indicazioni che possono essere facilmente adattate ai vostri gusti.

Vi consiglio di usare gli asparagi sottili in quanto sono più saporiti, ma attenzione, perché se non sono freschi, potrebbero risultare amari.

  1. Frittata di asparagi: tagliate gli asparagi, lessateli finché non saranno teneri. Poi saltateli in olio d’oliva e mettete da parte. In una ciotola unite uova, Parmigiano grattugiato, sale, pepe e, infine, gli asparagi. In una padella, scaldate un paio di cucchiai di olio d’oliva e versate il composto. Capovolgete la frittata quando il fondo sembra cotto.
  2. Risotto agli asparagi: io lo faccio così.
  3. Quiche agli asparagi: perché non aggiungere degli asparagi alla ricetta della vostra quiche lorraine? La combinazione di asparagi e pancetta mi fa venire già l’acquolina in bocca.
  4. Asparagi gratinati con parmigiano e Prosciutto di Parma croccante: Preriscaldate il forno a 180° e rivestite la teglia con carta da forno o alluminio. Mettete un filo d’olio d’oliva sulla carta e posizionate gli asparagi sul vassoio. Coprite con pan grattato, Pamigiano, sale, pepe e prosciutto di Parma tagliato a listarelle. Irrorate nuovamente con olio d’oliva e cuocete fino a quando la copertura sembrerà croccante.
  5. Insalata di asparagi con orzo perlato e gamberi: Ok questa ricetta richiede buone capacità di multitasking, siete pronti? Via! Cuocete l’orzo secondo le istruzioni riportate sulla confezione, poi sciacquatelo in acqua fredda per fermare il processo di cottura. Nel frattempo, cuocete gli asparagi a vapore e saltate i gamberi in padella con olio d’oliva, aglio e un pizzico di peperoncino. Quando i vostri tre ingredienti saranno pronti, uniteli in una ciotola e condite con olio d’oliva, sale e pepe. Se avete gusti discutibili come me, aggiungete un po ‘di succo di limone appena spremuto, che a mio parere aggiunge una sfumatura di acidità al piatto.

Buon appetito!