I’m no ramen expert but I do love Asian food so a trip to the new(ish) Kanada-Ya ramen bar in Piccadilly was an exciting one. The second site to open, after the success of nearby Giles Street, Kanada-Ya have only upped the hype surrounding their much-loved signature dish. The evening we went was particularly wet and cold but even this wasn’t enough to put off a queue waiting on the street for a table. This is an in’n’out kind of place so the turnover rate for tables is fairly quick, making it an ideal pre-theatre destination.
I had moyashi ramen, moyashi meaning beansprouts. A lighter version of the original it came with their 18-hour pork bone broth, secret sauce, hand pulled noodles, chashu, pork, wood ear fungus, nori and spring onion. The mushrooms had a bite to them still, as did the noodles which meant it wasn’t a bowl of sloppy textures. My guest went for the Chashu-men – same as the original but with Chashu pork collar – generous slices of slow cooked pork arranged around the edge of the bowl making way for the mound of noodles in the middle.
To be completely honest it tastes better than it looks. The broth is a creamy brown colour, scattered with similarly coloured slices of pork, dark brown mushrooms and a slight punch of life in the form of spring onions but that absolutely should not put you off! Especially when you consider that the broth is a secret recipe from founder Kanada Kazuhiro’s Japanese restaurant. Roughly speaking, it involve simmering pork bones for hours on end, giving it it’s creamy colour and the name ‘tonkotsu’ – there is no denying the broth is what makes the ramen. Kanada-Ya’s unique recipe is used as a base for all their ramen dishes so the two we tried tasted pretty similar and equally as delicious. The creaminess of the liquid meant that it was particularly filling, the huge portion of noodles reinforcing this. A bit like an Asian take on creamy mushroom soup, it’s probably not the best for the waistline but somehow because it was a liquid (and I know that bone broth is ridiculously good for you) that didn’t cross my mind.
Despite the straightforward menu, there are plenty of ways to personalise your bowl – I added pickled ginger (on the tables for you to help yourself) but spicy miso paste, extra nori, charred black garlic sauce or a chashu cured egg are all on the menu and next time I will definitely get an egg. You also get the choice of how you like your noodles cooked – I like mine on the soft side so went for regular and they still had a bit of a bite to them but obviously softened over time as they continued cooking in the warm liquid.
In keeping with the authenticity I had a citrussy sake and my guest the Uijin beer – both recommended – and we shared a huge portion of matcha frozen yogurt to round off the evening. As well as their signature ramen they also serve onigiri. We got the flaked salmon one between the two of us which I found a bit bland and to be honest we didn’t need – the ramen was filling enough on it’s own.
Kanada-Ya felt truly authentic, even down to the music playing and the Japanese names on the menu – if you don’t feel like you’re in a Japanese ramen bar you could definitely be mistaken for thinking you’re in downtown New York. Another golden sign of authenticity? 90% of the other diners were Japanese and were loving it, every slurp.