I have an affinity love for ramen, especially Tonkotsu. This was quite evidence from my on going search for the great, if not, perfect bowl of this delectable noodle soup in London. This has been proven rather hard simply because even though there are quite a few numerous restaurant that constantly claims to be serving authentic ramen were infect just dire and flaccid noodle soaked in a MSG laden, weak and one dimensional broth.One exclusion from all these imitations was of course the soon-to-be open Tonkotsu Bar and Restaurant. Their past few ramen pop ups that I've attended were brilliant!
I recently stumbled upon Cocoro's website and found out about their lunch menut which includes the Tonkotsu ramen set. So off I went to sample it hoping to find another real ramen gem amongst the fake dross.
Upon arriving, it all looked rather promising. Cocoro is not one of those big fancy restaurant and has a certain cosy charm. All the staff were Japanese which is always a good sign for authencity (surely they would know what a ramen taste like). I was immediately greeted and swiftly brought to my table. Even without looking at the menu, I order the Tonkotsu set - that was the reason why I'm here after all
The restaurant had a sushi bar situated right at the front of the room where you can sit by the counter (Japanese style) while watching the Japanese sushi chef slicing the sashimi with military precision and everything look really fresh in the see-through chilled cabinet. Just when I was deeply engrossed in this fascinating performance, my lunch set started to arrived. The set included some perfectly steamed sushi rice a selections of simple salad and a daikon/mooli and carrots pickle. The fried salmon pieces in a light kombu dashi sauce were delicious, as were the miso soup.
Then the main star arrived, looking as milky and thick as they come with a D-I-Y condiment served on the side. Not very traditional I thought but as least these allowed me t taste the pure flavour of the soup base first without any interfering flavours. And what a pure delight that was. The soup was definitely rich and porky - something only achievable from a long simmering process - and has a thick, intense flavours , top with a layer of glistering fat. Even with the liberal scattering of mayu (black sesame oil), the robust and collagen-laden broth stood out which is not a mean feat.
Next, I added all the condiments to the ramen with as much care as I can managed. This included the seasoned egg, menma (fermented bamboo shoot), spring onions, wood ear mushrooms, pickled mustard greens, toasted sesame seeds and of course the char siu. I took a bite, or should I say slurp on the thin noodles and it has a lovely bit and along with the flavours of the broth were superb. The char siu was tender and has a lovely, well seasoned flavour but the egg, though nicely seasoned were a touch overcooked and did not have the runny yolk constancy which I adore. But all in all, the balanced of all the flavours were incredibly good. Without a doubt that by far, this was the most authentic and excellent bowl of tonkotsu that I have tasted in yonks. I have yet to taste Tonkotsu bar and restaurant version so was unable to make comparison, this hopefully will be rectify once they open their restaurant.
The lunch set finished off with a couple of slices of orange wedges and all these came to a total of £14 (£1 for the green tea). My only complaint will be that I would have loved to have more noodles in the ramen at this price and would prefer more substantial toppings and the usual sides of gyoza with my ramen set instead.
31 Marylebone lane
(Note: Ramen set is only served at lunchtime 12noon - 2.30pm)