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Japanese food is thin on the ground in east London, so Tonkotsu East, in the arches at Haggerston since October 2013, has arrived not a moment too soon. The East End outpost of the cultish Soho original, this great-looking ramen-ya stakes its name on the quality of its ‘tonkotsu’ ramen, a speciality from the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. Noodle-slurpers more used to perky fusion broths from the high street may be surprised by the sheer ‘oomph’ of Tonkotsu’s meaty ramen; the 18-hour pork bone broth, homemade noodles and pork belly topping will kill a hangover stone-dead. The brief menu lists just a handful of noodle dishes (including cold tsukemen dipping ramen) plus some sides including tasty curried chicken wings, excellent porky gyoza and branch exclusives of pumpkin or crab korokke, all best enjoyed with beer (Japanese or local craft). Staff are well drilled but spread too thin. No reservations.
Tonkotsu East is a spin off of Tonkotsu, the popular ramen joint on Dean Street in Soho, London. Situated on an alley of lock ups by Haggerston it is not the easiest to locate in the dark but it offers a bigger vibrant space over the Soho branch.There are a handful of ramen choices but I was only interested in the signature Tonkotsu on a chilly night. Served in a rich sea salt based pork stock the ramen noodles were bouncy and firm, just how I like them. The stock was rich and deep in flavour which made slurping the ramen even better. The accompaniments of pork belly, soft boiled egg, menma, beansprouts...
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Finally, a place dedicated to ramen in East London! Now there is no need to go all the way into Soho for a quick bowl. If the past year was about testing the market for ramen the coming year will be about expansion beyond central London and Tonkotsu East is the first one of the few that are all based in Soho to take the step. This also means that ramen is here to stay...
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