There are upsides and downsides to national stereotypes. As Brits, people overseas view us as sophisticated and imbue us with considerably more intelligence than we actually have. Any kind of ribbing about bad teeth, tea drinking and being obsessed with the Royal Family can be met with a stern glare and a tersely whispered threat of ‘release the hounds’.
However, there are problems. As a nation, we are supposed to enjoy queuing. I’ve never understood this, perhaps because I’m not fond of being stationary in bad weather and bad company. Maybe I should learn to know my place, which is 16 places back whilst being peered at by a jobsworth with a clipboard.
Right now, there’s also the impetus to stop huffing and learn to love the line, especially as queuing has become de rigeur in London’s eating scene. The ultimate irony of this current trend is that you have to stand in a line for what is meant to be fast food or stuff you can take away. I’m thinking of the lines to get into Meat Liquor, Five Guys Burgers and now Shoryu Soho just off Shaftesbury Avenue.
I arrived on a Thursday evening and dutifully joined the line. From other people’s experiences of the restaurant, I was fortunate that I came relatively early and only had to wait around quarter of an hour. Once inside, the reason for managing the entrance and exit of customers was clear. This was a very packed restaurant, animated and with the ongoing spectacle of the waiters trying Tetris-like combinations in order to fit different groups onto the tables.
When it came to the food, I have to admit that I had readily adopted the typical Londoner mindset of ‘impress me then’, especially having to suffer the indnity of waiting in a line for the amount of time it would take to watch a medium-length webisode.
However, I was immediately disarmed by the Karaka Tantan Tonkotsu, which was tonkotsu with a twist, rich and spicy fried minced pork in white miso and garlic with added lemon, garlic and chiu chow chilli oil. This had a snappy kick and a real vigour.
And however long I’ve been asked to queue, I’m always a sucker for a truffle mochi. You could put one on a fishing line, tie me to a tree and dangle one in front of me, and I would never give up trying to reach it. They offer three flavours and I’ll be returning to make sure that the other two were as good as the raspberry milk chocolate.
3 Denman Street