February’s favourites: 5 Ramen bars in London I love

It’s been a while since I thought about writing a post about the best ramen bars in London and whoever read my post in the previous months, knows how I was dedicated at finding the best place in town that could satisfy my ramen craving here in this cold part of Europe.

Aware of the fact that London is full Japanese restaurants and the ramen fashion is rapidly picking up, I decided to visit the most popular ramen bars in town. After careful consideration (as those many rejection email I’m receiving start) I decided to briefly describe my personal favourite places, ranking them for a precise feature that makes their product stand out.

For first starters: Shoryu Ramen. This is the first place where I had the chance to eat ramen in London after my sublime foodie experience in Japan. The Origin Tonkotsu has a pretty well balanced harmony of flavour between the the broth and the toppings. A nice place to start your ramen appreciation. Unfortunately I don’t have a review for Shoryu, because I went there before I started this blog. However I still remember a pleasant experience.

For broth: Ippudo. A bowl of ramen without the perfect broth would just be pointless (see instant ramen cups) Here the broth is creamy and milky as it’s supposed to be after pork bones are violently boiled for 20 hours and release their collagen. Taste is meaty, satisfying, but at the same time it’s almost sweet,  “clean” I would define it, meaning it does not leave a strong greasy aftertaste in your mouth. Read my complete review here.

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Shiromaru Hakata Classic @Ippudo

For noodles: Tonkotsu. These guys make their noodles on the premises thanks to their Japanese noodle machine and the use of local ingredients (let’s not forget the research for the perfect alkaline salted water) that perfectly abide by the original recipe. I love their tsukemen noodle so much for their “bite”. Unfortunately they are available only at their Tonkotsu East location. Read my complete review here.

Detail of the noodles.

Noodles for Tsukemen @ Tonkotsu East

For the marinated soft boiled egg: Kanada-ya. Ok, I know, you think I am kidding right? Simply, I’m not. Everybody who had the chance to try a real bowl of ramen (no, the instant one you had in college don’t count) know how extremely important the egg is to the whole flavour of the recipe. It has to be still runny, so the yolk mixes a bit with the soup, and white should have nicely absorbed the soy sauce overnight or more. In other words it should be a concentrate of Umami. Kanada-ya’s egg was absolute perfection, but unfortunately it comes with an additional price of £2. This is not a deterrent to hungry customers, because it seems to sell out very quickly. Read my complete review here.

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Kanada ya. That egg over there is to die for.

For strong flavours: Bone Daddies. Considering that when on a diet, ramen in general might not be the best choice for your calorie count, Bone Daddies’ speciality requires customers who want enjoy the full flavour experience and preferably without any sense of guilt after eating. Rich (or fatty maybe?) and intense broth, contrasting aromas and different textures in just one dish. Read my complete review here.

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@Bone Daddies

The winner or should I say winners

I think it depends on the occasion and the the atmosphere I’d like to give to my meal. In fact I would definitely choose Ippudo for a girls’ night out both because the place looks a bit fancier than the other ramen bars and because the broth base has an authentic flavour, but at the same time it tastes clean, not greasy at all.

However if I wanted a foodie date without frills or a highly satisfying solo lunch experience I would definitely choose Bone Daddies’ insanely rich Tonkotsu ramen.
What about you guys, have you visited any of these five places?

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Chef, not really a great film

Chef poster from the website beyondhollywood.com

 

Chef is a film directed by Jon Favreau who also plays the protagonist Carl, a talented chef that finds himself jobless after a fight with a well-known food critic goes viral online. Carl then accept to start a new culinary and entrepreneurial adventure cooking Cuban sandwiches on his food truck. This choice allows him to reconnect with his son and ex wife (the always gorgeous Sophia Vergara) and to rediscover the joy of cooking simple and traditional dishes. Happy ending for everyone, according to the classic scheme of the comedy film.

Pleasant film but not exceptional, in my opinion, because its message seems to be that it’s easy to grow a successful business if the food is good and it’s well advertised on twitter. Frankly, I don’t think it can possibly be true or applied as a general rule, otherwise we would be surrounded by profitable companies and we wouldn’t talk about the economic crisis.

I wish the protagonist had dealt with some difficulties during his food truck adventure; I wish he had doubted this choice; After this, I wish he had found a reason to challenge himself that this was the right thing to do, the right purpose to believe in and to reach, just as it happens to real people in real life. This is fiction though, I know.

I would also have spent a couple of minutes more about the protagonist’s rediscovered joy in cooking simple and traditional food for all people, not just for food critics. It would have been more realistic and acceptable to me.

I give this film one star (as in the Michelin Guide), but just because I feel generous and I would have eaten a couple of those Cubanos.

Disclaimer: All images are copyrighted by their respective owners unless otherwise stated. Links/Credits are provided via click-through link or caption.  Clicking the link of the image will lead you to its source.

 

And now in Italian.

Chef è un film diretto da Jon Favreau che interpreta anche il protagonista Carl, un talentuoso chef che si ritrova senza lavoro dopo che, una lite piuttosto accesa con un noto critico gastronomico si diffonde online a macchia d’olio. Carl, in seguito, accetta di iniziare una nuova avventura culinaria e imprenditoriale preparando sandwich cubani sul suo camioncino itinerante. Questa scelta gli permette di riavvicinarsi a suo figlio e alla sua ex moglie (la sempre splendida Sofia Vergara) e di riscoprire la gioia di cucinare piatti semplici e tradizionali. Lieto fine per tutti, come nel classico schema della commedia.

Un film piacevole ma non eccezionale a mio parere, perché sembra far passare il messaggio che è facile creare un business di successo se il cibo è buono ed è ben pubblicizzato su twitter. Francamente, non credo che possa essere vero oppure una regola da applicare in generale, altrimenti saremmo circondati da compagnie redditizie e non staremmo a parlare crisi economica.

Avrei voluto che il protagonista avesse incontrato delle difficoltà durante la sua nuova avventura culinaria ed imprenditoriale; Avrei voluto vedere Carl mettere in dubbio questa scelta ed infine trovare una ragione per sfidare sé stesso e convincersi che questa era la cosa giusta da fare, l’obiettivo a cui credere e raggiungere, proprio come accade alle persone reali nella vita reale. Questa è finzione però, ne sono consapevole.

Avrei anche anche voluto che il protagonista/regista avesse dedicato qualche minuto in più al alla ritrovata gioia di cucinare cibo semplice e tradizionale per tutte le persone, non solo per i critici gastronomici. Sarebbe stato più realistico e accettabile secondo me.

Questo film si merita una stella (come nella Guida Michelin), ma solo perché mi sento generosa e avrei voluto mangiata un paio di quei Cubanos.

 

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Eataly Rome has a couple of things to change

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Eataly is a supermarket chain specialised in high quality Italian food, founded by the entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti. The first store opened in Turin in 2007 and from that moment, Eataly’s popularity has continuously spread, especially in the US and in Japan, but the chain is planning a further expansion in the Middle East and South America.

Quite a big deal then.

I have to admit my excitement as soon as I stepped out of the subway, because for a person with a genuine passion for food, going to Eataly means only a thing: high expectations.

Eataly is located at the former Air Terminal Ostiense and has four floors, each one divided in precise food categories: vegetables, meat, fish, cheeses, charcuterie, pasta, bread, pizza, wines, beer, sweets and chocolate. Moreover each section has its own restaurant.

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Molisan pride

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According to Eataly’s manifesto, their mission is to bring the best Italian products to the public, broadening food awareness, creating a trustworthy bond between customers and producers while respecting the sustainability of every single product. Great, amazing, but…there’s always a but.

Let’s start with the importance of eating seasonally and sustainably, an excellent resolution for our health, wallet and environment. Of course Eataly claims this too, displaying a seasonal wheel of the vegetables available in Lazio, Rome’s region.

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I couldn’t even finish to carefully look at it, that my attention was caught by something else, in the vegetables section: asparagus from South America. And then other vegetables or fruit, not in season, coming from all around the world.

I see a big contradiction here in preaching seasonal and sustainable eating and then finding those products with high carbon footprints. Marketing has its own cruel rules, but let’s be frank about it, I can buy cherries from Chile or courgettes from Peru in every supermarket, if I want to. So if Eataly wants to really adhere to their ideals and stick out, I think the bravest choice that could make them coherent and unique, is to sell only seasonal vegetables, because sometimes “less is more”.

Then again, I immediately recognised a brand of English crisps (chips for the US), German and Belgian beers, right next to the Italian ones. I’m not parochial, I just don’t see the point of selling foreign brands in a place called Eataly, where 99% of products are Italian. I assume this choice is the result of various business agreements between Eataly and foreign companies. Is it just a matter of branding?

While I was thinking about this, my stomach told me it was time to eat. I went for fried anchovies from Cetara, a small village on the Amalfi coast renowned for these small fishes.

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This dish feeded more than just one person, so my partner and I decided to share it. However, before starting to dig in, we agreed to play a little trick on our waiter to test his knowledge. We asked him how to eat fried anchovies properly, with or without the fishbone.

His answer, in a heavy Roman accent, was the following:

“I don’t know, I don’t even like fish, but I assume it’s the same as for prawns. You know, there are people who eat the shell and others who just don’t.” I was astonished and speechless, thinking I don’t know a single person who eats prawns’ shells.

Eataly is supposed to sell Italy’s excellence, but it’s difficult when the personnel is unprepared, while hiring passionate and knowledgeable people who really care about food would certainly deliver a more efficient customer service.

I recommend to visit Eataly Rome, as it is a nice place where foodies (a word that I hate) can satisfy all their Italian cravings, but I feel some aspects should be improved, otherwise, at the end of the day, all ideals are just commercial slogans and nothing else.

And now in Italian.

Eataly, fondata dall’imprenditore Oscar Farinetti, è una catena di negozi specializzati nella vendita di prodotti agroalimentari italiani di qualità. Dall’apertura del primo punto vendita a Torino nel 2007, la popolarità di Eataly ha continuato a crescere in maniera smisurata, tanto da conquistare Stati Uniti, Giappone e presto anche il mercato del Medio Oriente e del Sud America.

Non proprio una cosa di poco conto, no?

Devo ammettere il mio entusiasmo una volta uscita dalla metropolitana, perché per una persona come me, appassionata di cibo, Eataly voleva dire solo una cosa: altissime aspettative.

Lo store si trova all’interno dell’ex Air Terminal Ostiense ed è suddiviso in 4 piani, ognuno con vari settori dedicati ad una sola categoria di prodotti: verdure, carne, pesce, formaggi, salumi, pasta, pane, pizza, vini, birre, dolci e cioccolato. In più, ogni sezione ha un suo punto di ristoro.

La missione di Eataly è quella di portare ai consumatori i migliori prodotti del territorio italiano, promuovere un consumo alimentare consapevole e sostenibile, creando un saldo legame tra produttori e consumatori. Bene, benissimo, ma…c’è sempre un ma.

Partiamo dall’importanza di mangiare prodotti sostenibili e di stagione, ottimo proposito per la nostra salute, il portafoglio e l’ambiente. Ovviamente anche Eataly è dello stesso parere, infatti all’entrata è possibile trovare una grandissima ruota, che mostra i vegetali prodotti nel Lazio durante le 4 stagioni. Non faccio neanche in tempo a guardarla, che il mio sguardo cade su qualcos’altro, nel reparto verdure: asparagi dal Sud America. Non solo quelli, c’erano anche altri vegetali e alcune varietà di frutta provenienti da tutto il mondo. Credo che ci sia una grande contraddizione nel predicare un’alimentazione sostenibile e che rispetti le stagioni, quando in negozio si trovano prodotti ad alto impatto ambientale (pensiamo al loro trasporto). Il marketing ha delle regole spietate, ma siamo onesti, possiamo comprare ciliegie cilene o zucchine peruviane in qualsiasi supermercato, se vogliamo. Perciò, se Eataly vuole rispettare i suoi ideali e differenziarsi davvero, dovrebbe fare una scelta coraggiosa che renderebbe l’azienda unica e più coerente, cioè vendere solo verdure di stagione. Perché certe volte, meno è meglio.

Non finisce qui, perché girando per le varie sezioni, ho subito riconosciuto un marchio inglese famoso per le patatine, e poi birre provenienti dal Belgio e dalla Germania accanto a quelle italiane. Il mio non è campanilismo, non capisco perché commercializzare marchi stranieri in un posto che si chiama Eataly, dove il 99% dei prodotti sono italiani. Forse è il risultato di accordi con aziende straniere, tutta una questione di marketing?

Mentre continuavo a pensarci su, il mio stomaco ha cominciato a brontolare. La scelta è caduta sul fritto di alici di Cetara, paese della costiera amalfitana rinomato per questi buonissimi pesciolini. Il piatto era decisamente abbondante per una sola persona, così io e il mio compagno abbiamo deciso di condividerlo. Però, prima di cominciare a mangiare, abbiamo pensato di testare il personale della friggitoria, perciò abbiamo chiesto al cameriere quale fosse il modo corretto per mangiare le alici, se intere con tutta la lisca, o diliscate.

Mi ha risposto così:

“No oo sò, a me l’alisci manco me piacciono, ma penzo che è a stessa cosa dei gamberi. Hai visto, ci sta gente che li mangia ‘nteri.”

Ero sbalordita, senza parole, ma chi è che mangia i gamberi interi?

Eataly dovrebbe vendere l’eccellenza italiana, ma è difficile quando il personale è impreparato, mentre se si assumono persone con una passione vera per il settore dell’agroalimentare, il servizio al cliente potrà sicuramente migliorare.

 Eataly è un posto che raccomando, perché è un paradiso per i foodies (parola che odio) in quanto si trova davvero di tutto, però penso che alcuni aspetti vadano decisamente migliorati, altrimenti si ridurrà tutto alla solita trovata commerciale tutto fumo e niente arrosto.