Posted on Saturday, 24th January 2015
Photos and words by Food Porn Nation and I.
Kanada-Ya on St Giles High Street opened its doors in September 2014 and has since cultivated a large following with its special brand of ramen. Kanada-Ya is the brainchild of the award winning tonkostu broth master Mr Kanada who has been making ramen in Japan since 2009. It specialises only in tonkostu ramen and does not stray into shio, shoyu or miso based broths.
The secret to Kanada-Ya’s success is its specially cooked 18-hour pork bone tonkotsu broth which is tended to overnight. There are three different types of ramen bowls available – the original, the moyashi (a lighter broth) and chashu-men (ramen finished with a chashu collar). The word ramen is taken from the Chinese word ‘lamien’ which means ‘hand pulled noodles’ and the ramen at Kanada-Ya is literally that – hand pulled noodles prepared on site by their very own noodle whiz. Kanada-ya also serve onigiri (Japanese rice balls wrapped in nori) that can be washed down with a selection of Japanese beers, sake or soft drinks.
Like Kanada-Ya’s menu, the décor is simple and basic. But it does the trick as ramen is Japanese fast food rather than a lingering sit down dining experience. But Kanada-Ya has become so popular that there are often queues which can lead to about a half hour wait.
The chashu-men (£12.50) caught our eye with the promise of an extra chashu pork collar. The tonkotsu broth was delicious – smooth, creamy, fatty and frothy; full of depth and beautifully rounded. The ramen was cooked to order; very firm, firm, regular or soft. We tried both firm and regular and we found the noodles perfectly cooked to order and that they had been pulled to an exact thinness that was lovely and chewy. The chashu is made using the neck so it is far leaner than that of pork belly.
Extra gold label seaweed (nori – £1), chashu cured burford brown egg (hanajuku egg – £2) and the charred black garlic oil (Ma-yu – £1.50) can all be ordered as additional extras. We tried and loved them all. The hanajuku egg was an egg cured with chashu (pork pieces) and was something special. It was both beautifully sweet and savoury and exuded a lovely warm brown glow with a golden gooey centre. The shiny charred black garlic oil was as dark as the night and filled the air with delicious stinky garlic aroma that enhanced the flavours of this brilliant ramen. The nori was excellent with a lovely flavour.
We also ordered both the onigiri options of flaked salmon (£3) and sour plum (£2.50). Overall, we found the rice a little too wet (note 1). The filling of flaked salmon was also a little bland. The sour plum was very sour and tart, which was as it should be, but it was an acquired taste.
So was this the perfect ramen? Well the broth came very close to being the perfect tonkotsu broth, so on this alone it was an absolute winner. We also loved all the added extras such as the egg, nori and garlic oil. So yes we would say that this was one of the best tonkostu ramens in London. Service was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. We would happily go back again for more.
Note 1: On a second visit we found the rice to be fine so we think the wet rice was a one off.
1) The tonkostu broth was spectacular, well rounded and flavourful.
2) The chashu cured egg, nori and garlic oil were magnificent additions to the broth.
3) The service was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.
1) The rice in the onigiri was a little too wet (but not on the second visit). The flaked salmon onigiri was bland.
2) Waiting outside for 30 minutes but it really was worth the wait.
Food rating: 4.25/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Price: £10-£20 per person excluding drinks and service.