tonkotsu japanese noodle nerds

Tonkotsu Japanese noodle nerds

If you fancy a bowl of super fresh noodles, head to Tonkotsu, these noodle nerds have perfected the optimum noodle thickness and consistency balanced with the best broth and tempting toppings. I checked out the branch in Haggerston, which is just off Kingsland Road, but they also have a few other locations. If you’re searching for the best Japanese noodles, noodle bars in London, best places to eat in Dalston, restaurants Hackney or restaurants Haggerston do give Tonkotsu a try.

tonkotsu, japanese meal

Our Japanese Meal

A quick overview of ramen for you – the ramen stock is made from bones, mainly pork or chicken, which are left to boil for a very long time, some 18 hours at this joint. Added to this are alkaline noodles and a base of concentrated liquor; soy, miso or salt finished with toppings. The stock and base can be combined to make four main types of ramen; shoyu, miso, tonkotsu and shio, which is salt. The restaurant name derives from the ramen served in Kyushu which is an island at the most southern point of Japan. To find out more about ramen refer to the website which gives a detailed explanation.

Tonkotsu Haggerston Menu

Armed with a traditional Japanese ramen noodle making machine (yes there is such a thing!), they make oodles of fresh noodles which they have taken time to perfect. With flour from a specialist mill in Oxford and filtered alkaline-salted water, they produce the bounciest ramen noodles in London. Any noodle lover needs to try these, and I thought they were fantastic, so much better when they are fresh. The stocks are also made on-site, which is super tasty, so you’re in for a treat. I’ve eaten noodles in Japan, and I thought these were very good indeed, they get a big thumbs up from me.

tonkotsu, edamame beans

Edamame Beans

The menus do change slightly depending on which branch you eat at so do check online first. The Haggerston location featured cold Hiyashi noodle salads with a choice of marinated and poached chicken. The seafood version is king prawns and white crab meat while the vegetarian option is shimeji and shiitake, which is Japanese mushrooms. Your cold noodles will come with a seasoned egg and variations of cucumber, pea shoots, seaweed, tomatoes and a sesame dressing. Or you can try Tsukemen which is thick, elastic cold noodles served with a bowl of hot pork broth and pork belly slices, seasoned egg, bamboo shoots, spring onion and bonito powder. If you prefer hot noodles, you can choose from Tonkotsu with a sea salt-based pork stock, thinly cut noodles, pork belly slices, seasoned egg, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and spring onions. The Tokyo Ramen is a soy sauce-based pork and chicken stock with similar toppings. I tried the miso and shimeji mushroom, which was a miso base with konbu and shiitake stock. Instead of pork belly, it was pak choi and mushrooms. The stock was so kind and the ingredients expertly arranged (minus bean sprouts at my request), it was a work of art!

tonkotsu, noodles

Miso and Shimeji Mushroom Tsukemen

They also serve Gyoza which are handmade dumplings fried. You get five per plate and can choose the pork or shiitake with bamboo shoots if you are a veggie. It tried the latter and must say they were excellent.

tonkotsu, gyoza

Shiitake and Bamboo Shoot Gyoza

There were eight side dishes (small plates), one of which is Korokke (croquettes) which are filled with crab or pumpkin. These are served with a homemade tartar sauce. We tried the pumpkin version, it was delicious, and I loved the tartar sauce.

tonkotsu, pumpkin korokke

Pumpkin Korokke

Fish and seafood sides include salt and sansho pepper squid with the squid being deep-fried. Or you could try the king prawn katsu where the prawns are coated in Japanese panko bread crumbs which you can dip into the katsu sauce (curry sauce). Homeboy tried the yellowtail Hamachi sashimi (raw fish) which he said was terrific.

tonkotsu, sashimi

Yellowtail Hamachi Sashimi

Other sides included edamame beans sprinkled with sea salt, tender stem broccoli with Japanese mayonnaise and chicken kara-age which is marinated in soy, ginger and garlic and then fried. We shared the vegetarian noodles, and four side dishes between two people. The bowl of noodles is quite large, and if you had one to yourself, it would be quite filling. They are happy to give you another bowl if you want to divide it. There were two desserts, crème Brulee and an ice cream which comes in vanilla, salted caramel and yuzu (East Asian citrus fruit) flavours. Unfortunately, we couldn’t eat another mouthful so didn’t get to try the ice cream. The drinks list includes Sake, Nikka Japanese Whisky (they have an extensive whisky list at the Mare Street branch), Yuzu lemonade and some rare teas – jasmine, lemongrass and green. If you fancy a beer, try the Kirin Draught or Sapporo Lager. They also have a few wines and cocktails.

Tonkotsu Haggerston Interiors

This restaurant is located under railway arches just off Acton Mews which has got a buzz going on at the moment thanks to the other eateries which have opened. The interiors are quite sizeable and have a very industrial décor. The arched ceilings are in bare brick as are most of the walls. You have a good view of the noodle-making machine at the far end of the space through the glass window. This gives you something interesting to watch while you wait for your ramen. The seating arrangement is a couple of long communal tables in the centre of the room, a few tables seating two or four along one wall and solo spots facing the counter. Towards the front, they have a drinks bar with a few stools where you can wait to be seated.

tonkotsu, interiors

Restaurant Interiors

The outside space is urban, but they’ve made it quite lovely with wooden benches and have decorated with some bamboos planted in boxes which are used as screens. This has a cover above so it’s okay to sit outside when it’s raining. If you have a bicycle, you can chain it to the railings and keep an eye on it. You get a good view down Acton Mews so you can see what’s going on at the other eateries. Overall this place has a great vibe, attentive staff and first-class noodles!

Tonkotsu Haggerston Information

tonkotsu, exterior

Restaurant Exterior

Cuisine: Japanese ramen and more
Price: Cold noodle salad £9.50-11, a bowl of hot noodles £9-11, gyoza £5.75 and sides £3.50-6.95
Website: Tonkotsu
Address: I ate at the East branch, which is at Arch 334, 1A Dunston Street, London E8 4EB. Check the website for other locations
Near: Kingsland Road and Haggerston Overground
Open: Check the website for up to date opening times
Wi-Fi: Yes
Décor: Urban industrial
Seating: In the main restaurant which is on one floor plus plenty of seats outside
Reservations: Check the website as they have different policies per branch

Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks: Homeboy for dining with me.