Restaurants

Published on May 24th, 2017 | by Ben Southwood

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Bone Daddies, Marylebone

Bone Daddies has grown enough now to become a chain, but it has by no means lost its obsessive ramen nerdery. I know this because I was lucky enough to chat to antipodean-born Londoner founder Ross Shonhan for what I’m sure to him felt like ages about all things ramen noodles.

I told him of my troubles with making ramen at home: the broth is hard work but doable; the chashu pork and cured egg are doable; you can pretty much buy the assorted accoutrements, but the noodles! The noodles are so damn hard. He sympathised: Bone Daddies has had so much trouble with finding the correct water, the extremely precise slow rolling system, and the exact right wheat, that he has his noodles made for him by a specialist to guarantee consistency. I decided to buy mine from now on.

It is this attention to detail that makes Bone Daddies so good. Yes, attention to detail, and extreme obsession with a base of authenticity are increasingly common in London right now. But they’re common for a good reason: they make for better meals, and our collective taste is being honed sharper and sharper. It’s true that London has various ramen bars that wouldn’t survive a day in Japan—but it also has a bunch that surely would. And these are more and more popular.

I last went to Bone Daddies when its Soho branch had just opened. Then I’d never tried ramen once before. Since then I’ve been to every single London ramen restaurant multiple times and even attempted to make it at home several times, with varying degrees of success. It’s still good. I prefer tonkotsu (pork broth) to the chicken paitan we ate as part of this organised event, but I’d still take chicken paitan over most foods on offer: it’s less powerfully creamy and rich than the pork bone version, and has more of a grainy sesame-esque flavour.

The best dish was actually a skewer of fatty beef cheek and slightly hot padron size chilli peppers all frazzled on a charcoal grill with a pepper or tomato sauce that was slightly creamy. There was a competent salmon sashimi with a marmitey sauce and rice krispies (not actually rice krispies, but they were basically the same thing). There only misstep was some diabolical chicken wings: slimy and undercooked and unjointed with the wing tip on. Eating messily isn’t good in and of itself—the food has to be worth it.

Best of all may genuinely have been the two sake-based drinks I had: both were among the most delicious concoctions of that sort I’d ever had. I don’t have a vocabulary for explaining drinks, so just try them.

Bone Daddies is the sort of place that makes me very optimistic for the UK food scene: a proto-chain that cares about quality control, sincerity and ingenuity at the same time. I hope that there are branches in every major town by 2025!

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