Like most noodle bars, Kanada Ya’s new branch just off Haymarket is all-white and minimally furnished. My girlfriend and I are so tightly squeezed into our little booth that we’re vigorously kicking each other in the shins every time we move.
But if everything we’ve heard about the tonkotsu ramen here is true, a few bruises are a small price to pay. It’s a dish often forgotten between the lines of extensive Japanese menus – a hard one to totally ruin but equally hard to excel in. And while the name sounds like a posh gap year choice, Kanada Ya by now has quite the reputation for authentic ramen to protect.
Before putting it to the test we try the Onigiri, little parcels of sticky rice with salmon nuclei – a bit plain, but slathered in soy sauce nonetheless a good umami prelude.
I opt for the Gekikara ramen, which combines braised pork belly with a floating mound of extra spicy pork mince. The broth has exactly that comforting, creamy thickness that only comes from being simmered for many hours with pork bones. The pork belly is supple and full of flavour. Particularly enjoyable are the slices of wood ear fungus, which have a exhilarating slipperiness.
My girlfriend, tempted by the allure of high society, goes for the gluttonous truffle broth, which honestly is just overpowering unless you’re really keen on the stuff.
There are a good few options to customise, such as the hardness of your noodles – we pick hard but would next time go extra hard for that additional bounciness. The soft boiled egg with runny yolk is obviously a must as well.
An extra dose of noodles, known as kaedema is available but we leave it there, instead moving on to sesame ice cream – a rather strange novelty that I can’t quite bring myself to fully recommend.
All in all a very satisfying experience, with very friendly if inattentive staff. This second venue with two floors is a welcome addition, solving the queuing issue that the first one is infamous for.
Time Out claims the drinks are ‘strictly soft’ – well, we tried enough varieties of sake and beer to confirm this is either a bald-faced lie, or a whimsical short-lived policy that Londoners couldn’t tolerate.
3 Panton St,
>Tel: 020 7930 3511