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    Tonkotsu in Hackney - A cool Ramen Bar comes to Mare Street

    An unlikely opening in Mare Street - a very cool Ramen Bar materialises. Steve is transported from east end life to planet Zen.


    Review of Tonkotsu Japanese Restaurant Hackney

    I love those Sci-Fi portals: You go through a door/Stargate/wardrobe and whoosh! You are in another world. None of the hassle of spaceships or queues at Mission Control check-in.

    Lunch time yesterday I did the portal thing. One moment I was in Hackney’s Mare Street (a bit run down though but used to be worse, being hassled by a guy for the mysteriously exact sum of 48p) then I walked through the door of Tonkotsu and was instantly transported into a world of cool chrome, massively trendy furniture and a waitress from hipster central casting. All very, very Zen.

    I sat opposite the beautiful 100% stainless kitchen, where a busy looking chef concentrated hard on various pans whilst bossing the help around. In a real Sci- Fi style glass room a huge and wonderful Heath Robinson noodle making machine sat impressing me. A sign on the wall quoted a Tokyo Ramen Master (they exist?) saying that if you don’t make your own noodles ‘it is just a soup shop’.

    Lunchtime has Ramen... or Ramen. So I had seafood Ramen. Hipster waitress brought a glass of cool water with a slice of cucumber in it, which was nice. Then a glass of wine which was also very good and then, after much frowning and concentration from the chef, the Ramen soup arrived.

    It was then I realised I was being asked to join the cult of Ramen. Was this, as it seemed to be, an £11 bowl of quite nice noodle soup with two prawns, a bit of squid and 5 small clams or was it something else? Suddenly I was again the guy who had a glass from a £200 bottle of wine and thought it was ‘quite nice’ to the shock and horror of my host. I clearly had to work on my Ramen appreciation: otherwise I was secretly thinking that a £4 steaming bowl of Pho at the Vietnamese around the corner, MSG and all, was tastier.

    I slowed down. Tried to savour the flavour. Googled an Indy article on my phone I thought might help (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/the-anatomy-of-a-perfect-ramen-noodle-soup-and-how-to-make-one-9251169.html).

    After taking a long time and spending £20 on my soup and wine, I used the portal again and was whooshed back to workaday Hackney.

    Was it worth it? Would I come again? Did I get Ramen? Yes and yes and probably no. But the experience was great. The unrealness of this beautiful restaurant in this street was something else. I will return to planet Ramen if only to experience transportation to calm chrome and Zen and attempt to Ramen-educate myself.

    Tonkotsu

    382 Mare Street. London E8 1HR

    Open: Mon - Thu    12 to 3pm
    5 to 10.30pm Fri    12 to 3pm
    5 to 11pm Sat

    12 to 11pmSun12 to 10.30pm

    http://www.tonkotsu.co.uk/home 


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