Review of 'Showaken Tokyo Shitamachi Ramen'

I have been visiting “Japan Centre” for many years starting when they were located on south Regent Street then when they moved to Shaftesbury Avenue at Piccadilly Circus and now their current location a short distance away on Panton Street. Much of Japan Center is located underground with only a small space at street level which has previously served small goods including bakery items. In the last week an old-style ramen bar has now opened in this tight space and it is all the better for it.

Exterior

There is a queuing area with several small stools at the top of the stairs for this small ramen bar that is only open for lunch and (relatively) early evening meals. No booking here. The tiny restaurant itself is decorated with various old-style Japanese posters on the wall and generally feels like a noodle bar straight out of Tokyo. The space consists of a bar-style eating area along the window on the left and several small tables on the right with the (also) small cooking area at the far end. After being shown to your spot you are given a small, single sided A4 size, menu then must place your order at the till beside the kitchen (the food is delivered to your table). So, not much in the way of service but that is OK. It certainly has a cozy feel to the place but not necessarily somewhere you want to linger - “Showaken Tokyo Shitamachi Ramen” is for eating and makes no fuss about it.

The menu is simple featuring five different types of ramen (including a vegetarian option) costing between £10 and £13 (a larger size is available for each for another £2). There are also a few, fairly basic, side dishes that include edamame beans (£3.50) and, oddly, kimchi (£2). There are only four soft drinks including only one tea (“oolong”, which is Chinese, and was not available when I visited) as well as a number of “one cup” sakes. It strikes me that this menu may very well change over time.

I went for the signature “Tokusei Showaken Ramen” (£12; “soy, chicken and port broth with char siu bbq pork belly, nitamago burford brown egg, nori seaweed, chinese cabbage, menma bamboo shoots, naruto fish cake) which came only a few minutes after I ordered piping hot to my table (I was near the door which was open to the street so the warmth was welcome). The smell was slightly off-putting (a bit like dishwater) but it certainly did not taste this way - Full of rich meaty flavour with the noodles perfectly al denté. Unlike many noodle dishes here the pork was full of flavour helped by a thick layer of fat. The brown coloured egg was also perfectly cooked with the whites firm and the centre runny, adding yet more richness to the broth. All in all, absolutely delicious.

Tokusei Showaken Ramen

On the Saturday afternoon I visited (shortly before closing at 2:45 pm) there was no queue and if, in future, there are no queues when I am looking for somewhere to eat in the area I will certainly look forward to coming back and trying other ramen dishes they have on offer. It will not take too much time to get through the menu…I do wish them the best of success with such a simple restaurant but who can tell in the difficult London restaurant scene?

Good price, small menu, might be busy…a no-fuss, no-muss addition to Japan Centre that evokes what it must be like to eat in a Tokyo back-street noodle bar.

Rating:

Review Date: 2020-01-18


Cuisine: Japanese (Noodle Bar)

Address: Japan Centre, 35b Panton Street, London SW1Y 4EA ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Piccadilly Circus

Location: London (England) - Piccadilly Circus

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URL: https://www.japancentre.com/