Note: Today starts our week long tribute to Ramen as Ramen Wars begins. Find out about which Ramen places the Boozy Bunch members love as well as those they love to hate…
I’m a noodle fiend. A few of us boozy bunchers went to CôBa only yesterday for dinner (oh, so so SO GOOD) but by this lunchtime I was already craving a bowl of ramen (mainly because I opted to try the bun instead of going for the pho again). Bone Daddies (Kensington) was only 5 minutes walk from my client’s house so I decamped there immediately after I finished work for some well deserved noodly goodness.
For BD virgins, Bone Daddies specialise in Tonkotsu ramen. This dense, white broth hails from Kyushu and is characterised by boiling bones (mainly piggies, but some, like Ivan Ramen, uses a variety of bones in one stock- Ivan dedicates a sizable chunk of his cookbook talking about it and makes a good read if you’re interested in Ramen broth) for hours and hours and hours. The collagen, gelatine and all that squidgy goodness in the bone marrow comes out and that’s how we get that super flavourful, lip-smacking goodness. You can of course make tonkotsu broth at home, but from 2nd hand experience (I wasn’t determined enough to watch the fire overnight), my recommendation is don’t. You’d spend 20 hours with the gas on to make like 6 bowls of noodles, fervently hoping that you don’t doze off and burn the house down while risking the problem of it not tasting quite as good.
Today, I tried a new variety, the Kani Tonkotsu. This beauty is the 20 hour piggie broth mixed in with a dried anchovy, crabmeat (and other secret ingredients I’m sure) base topped with a beautiful piece of slightly charred pork neck, chilli oil, kale, bean sprouts, spring onions and black sesame. Oh and a piece of fried soft shell crab (1/2 I think). Normally this would come on top of everything else, but I have issues with my tempura getting soggy, so I asked for it on the side (which they were more than happy to do for me). I’d say buttered corn would be a good addition to this bowl, and perhaps an egg if you’re super hungry (or just order some of the yummy sides!). I must say, minus the chilli oil (because I’m a wuss and I just don’t like spicy food) the Kani is my favourite bowl from BD yet. The sweet sea-tasting (is there an English word for seafood taste? coz we have one in Chinese and I don’t know what it is in English…) crab really cuts through the rich tasting broth and takes it to another level. The chilli oil actually adds to this but I would prefer just a tiny bit (again, wuss). Overall the soup base is very umami tasting and morish. Add bouncy noodles, some veggies and the pork and you got a fantastic bowl of noodles. The soft shell crab is an excellent addition and tasted fantastic both crispy and soggy. Personally I’d like to be able to add my own spring onions and bean sprouts to my noodles but a) only because I am constantly fussy about too much bean sprouts and spring onions: I feel that I’m being conned with cheap filler and b) this is not pho and c) we were discussing this at CôBa and apparently not everyone likes to ‘build your own meal’.
After several visits, I’m still a bit discombobulated by BD’s residency at Whole Foods Kensington. It’s hardly healthy food (though extremely comforting) and I’m not convinced by the fact that it resides at a corner of what is essentially a fast food court (minus the fact that I am a fast food court purist and believe that a fast food court is no fast food court without Mcdonalds, KFC or an Orange Julius). But I shouldn’t complain as Bone Daddies at Whole Foods means that I don’t have to schlep into town when I want a big bowl of noodly hug. And boy, was that a massive hug of a bowl of noodles.
[I only had enough room for the Kani Tonkotsu this time but I’m also a fan of the KFC, the piggie bones, the pickles as well as the original Tonkotsu, Kimchee tonkotsu, T22, Tantamen and curry (though for curry my personal noodle preference is udon not ramen, but I’m ok with BD’s version).]
Soup: Can I swim in it? It was delicious, warming, and a fantastic contrast of seafood and piggie goodness.
Noodles: I like mine hard and forgot to ask for it. Still pretty bouncy though. And I do appreciate the fact that they use curly wurly ramen noodles.
Toppings: The pork was fantastic, the soft shell crab was a thing of beauty and I liked the kale. The beansprouts and spring onions are entirely a princessy problem of my own making. I didn’t add any garlic but did complement it with LOTS of ground sesame.
Egg: Sadly, no egg, but I didn’t miss it.
General Happiness: This is the kind of bowl which restores your belief in humanity. Ramen nirvana here we come.
Noodles: ★★★★★ Soup: ★★★★★ Toppings: ★★★★★ Egg: N/A Happiness: ★★★★★
Whole Foods, 63-97 High Street Kensington
020 7368 4575
Also available as a takeout through deliveroo (but their catchment area is REALLY quite small).