I was on the South Bank in central London on business and during lunch spotted a Tonkotsu restaurant. I sat on the bench style table facing the chefs and plumped for the large set lunch menu. 3 prawn Gyozas and a large Tokyo Ramen.
The gyoza came first are lite and tasty. Soft. Not over fried. You could taste the prawns and the spices.
The Tokyo Ramen is soy based broth mixed with a very clear chicken stock. The Tonkotsu homemade ramen noodles, braised pork belly and a seasoned egg. Dressed with bamboo shoots and spring onions. The broth is dark, hot and very tasty. There is a hint of soy but its very subtle. Home made noodles soft and moreish. These are really good noodles and there are so many of them.
The 4 slices of pork belly are more than enough. The are best occasionally dipped in the chilli oil provided. Absolute delight. Not sure about the soft flabby pork fat but still ate it all. Lastly the soft boiled egg fit right in.
MONOHON — a slang term in Japanese meaning, ‘the real thing’.
Rumour reached us that Monohon in Old Street had added a soup to the menu. When we visited them on their opening day the only dish available was the excellent soup-less ramen, so when a friend had spotted this new addition to the menu we dropped all other lunch plans and headed down there.
Monohon is a small restaurant towards the roundabout end of Old Street, with seating at the bar and a few tables. As ever, we chose the bar – I love being able to see food (or cocktails) prepared in front of me. It adds to the experience and excitement. It also meant we could chat with the chef/owner about the broth and what goes into it.
So, the new souper-star on the menu was a Shouyu Tonkotsu – a broth that takes all day to make from pork bones, mushrooms and kelp, coupled with homemade fresh noodles and toppings that include slow braised belly pork, soft boiled egg and vegetables.
Nothing about Monohon is mass produced or fast food. Every single ingredient is made with care – right down to the water used to make the noodles (not London tap water) and the number of ingredients in the seasoning sauce (10). Every bowl is hand crafted and the finished product is a testament to the attention to detail.
I ordered extra belly pork on mine as I opted not to have the egg, and when the soup was passed over the counter, hot and steaming, it looked and smelled amazing. The anticipation was enormous, I couldn’t wait to tuck in to the cloudy broth. The noodles were amazing, some of the best I’ve ever tasted and the pork was melt-in-the-mouth. The love and respect for this dish shines through in everything about the experience. A bowl of goodness and about as close as soup comes to being a spiritual experience.
My tip would be go early, by 1pm the place was packed, and take the time to savour the soup, it’s kinda special.