When it gets colder outside, few things are more comforting than curling up around a big bowl of steaming hot soup. The babes and I are crazy about pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup, that became one of our mid-week treats after ‘soccer mom’ duty. So when we were invited** to review Kanada-Ya, I was curious to see if they’d be as keen on Japanese ramen.
The Joys of Ramen
The last time I had ramen was in Toronto this summer, at a brand new venue across from our Air B&B on Queen St. There were queues outside the night before and on the day I went, it was overflowing with hungry visitors. When we visited Kanada-Ya’s branch on Upper Street, N1, the joint was equally buzzing.
Luckily we had a reservation, so breezed past the queue and sat by the window, eagerly browsing the menu.
If you’ve ever wolfed down pot or packet ramen (most likely as a student), you probably get occasional cravings for that salty-spicy mix. But there’s nothing quite like the real deal — a bone broth that’s cooked for hours or even days (rather than minutes), and crammed with fresh ingredients.
Tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen, Kanada-Ya’s specialty, is cooked for 18 hours and punctuated with chashu pork belly, wood ear fungus, seaweed and spring onion. You can select your own hardness for noodles – soft, regular, hard or extra hard (I went for their recommendation of ‘hard’). Hello, deliciousness!
Ramen vs Pho?
After a good deal of slurping, Ezra and Jed both declared they preferred pho over ramen. It’s a question of whether you prefer the lighter, more fragrant flavours and flat noodles of Vietnamese noodle soup, or the richer, pungent broth and thicker egg noodles of ramen. Personally, I’m a fan of both.
My tastebuds had FOMO throughout the meal. Even though we ordered more food than we could finish, I found myself lusting after other stuff on the menu. Like the truffle edamame that our neighbours were crunching on. And the sesame spiced ramen is on my ‘must try’ list for next time.
We ordered sides of Karaage — bites of crunchy mayo chicken that were a big hit. I shared a small plate with Ezra (because ‘man dem no longer eats kids’ meals’), while Jed got his as part of the kids’ meal.
Kanada-Ya Kids Menu
The Kids Menu offers decent portions for £6.95. You get a bowl of ramen (Chicken or Vegetarian) that’s perfectly proportioned for ages 10 and under; plus your choice of crunchy chicken or rice balls, and a juice. When his bowl first arrived, Jed thought his ramen was on the small side. But it was more than he could manage, with everything else he sampled!
We also tried a couple of the rice dishes. The Onigiri rice balls, dressed in seaweed and house seasoning, were a bit fishy for our tastes. Our favourite was the Chashu Don: bowls of rice with seared chashu pork and spring onions. Ezra practically abandoned his ramen so he could give this dish his full attention.
I paired my meal with a glass of Mio, a Japanese sparkling wine that was ultra refreshing. One thing I might like to see is a little more variety on the Kanada-Ya menu. Still, there was plenty for us to get our chops round. We left with full bellies and yet another reason to love London as a multicultural foodie hotspot. Can I get a (r)amen?
Fancy a slurp? Check out Kanada-Ya branches at Angel/Islington (Upper St), Piccadilly or Covent Garden. Visit www.kanada-ya.com for details.
**Press review, all opinions are my own