Simple and stylish, this brand-new Japanese spot in SE1 has nailed it from the get-go. With communal and bar-style seating only, no reservations, a tapas-style menu, and plenty of vegan options, the team at Hakata Ramen has tapped into the kind of NYC speakeasy/Tokyo dive-bar vibes that draws twenty-to-thirty-something foodies without any of the usual hype or hijinks that surrounds many new openings.
Situated on the corner of Bermondsey Street and Newham’s Row, the ground-floor restaurant and basement bar prides itself on its quality Japanese comfort food, premium Japanese-inspired cocktails, craft beers, saké and wines and its friendly and efficient service.
Once seated, which staff say is usually within 15 minutes of arriving, diners can look forward to tonkotsu (of which Hakata ramen is its most famous version) or one of nine other ramens, as well as a range of other popular dishes. Chicken wings, gyoza, bao buns and chunky katsu sandos all feature and are made from Japanese and premium-quality British ingredients for maximum authenticity and flavour.
There’s ample opportunity to pimp your ramen – whether you opt for a meat-based broth or one of five vegan options – with toppings such as shredded chicken, a selection of mushrooms, roasted seaweed, and garlic chips (to name but a few), and the kitchen will even tailor the noodle firmness to your preference.
It’s not just the ramen that’s aimed at the growing vegan contingent either; there are loads of dishes – mostly made up of aubergines and mushrooms – that are meat and dairy-free, plus the wines are all vegan too, as well as being mostly organic or biodynamic and made by small producers.
Drinks stocked in the basement bar follow suit in their lack of unnecessary additives or preservatives and are sourced locally as much as possible. The saké is produced by Kanpai in Peckham, the gin by Jim&Tonic in Elephant & Castle and the tonics by Bermondsey Mixer Company.