The Japanese Canteen: Being a huge Wagamama fan and walking past this place every morning and evening, I knew that I was eventually going to end up taking a detour inside one day. And I'm so glad I did! Noodles, ramen and spice are three of my favourite things together; so choosing from their very well priced menu proved quite difficult with all the varieties on offer, especially with the added choice of broth bases! I ended up going for the Duck Ramen with a coconut broth base, whilst the boyfriend went for Chicken Ramen with the Japanese soy broth base. Of course I also taste his, and can confirm both were subtly delicious! I did end up adding quite a lot of soy and chilli oil to mine, but this was down to personal taste rather than bad seasoning by the chefs! Although I didn't think it was quite as good as Wagamama, for the price and speed of service I would definitely recommend for any noodle fan out there! Click here to visit The Japanese Canteen website.
Pho: I heard about this place from a Lily Melrose tweet a while back just as I had moved to London. Fast-forward 2 months and I finally got round to visiting! On the way there we walked past The Breakfast Club's usual queue, and although we were tempted to eat here, the queue was just too long for our hungry bellies! We got in to Pho just before the rush thankfully and got to spread out on a 4 person table - about 10 minutes later they were turning people away! The restaurant is laid out really oddly in a U shape, which I felt made it much harder for the waitress who had to keep checking back and forth between each side and we ended up having to wait ages to order our food. However, the wait was worth it when our food arrived!
We ordered the Nem Nướng which is pork and lemongrass meatballs; to me they sounded quite boring but I'm glad my other half persuaded me as they were so full of flavour. Who would have know adding lemongrass would make pork mince taste so much more interesting! We both could have eaten a lot more of these! But next came our Pho's! Oh man, these were so delicious! We both went for the hot and spicy versions with Daley choosing Bún Gà Huế (chicken) and me choosing Bún Tôm Huế (tiger prawns). The pho base was actually quite sweet but completely worked, but they also give you a side plate of corriader, lime, chilli and other kinds of leaves, so to season to your own taste. I added them all, plus the chilli oil, chilli sauce, fish sauce and a mystery brown sauce that was placed on every table. To be honest, the pho didn't need any of these extra flavourings as it was seasoned perfectly but I'll add anything for extra spice! Comparing to Wagamama again, I'm afraid Pho's soup bases made Wagamama's taste like water in comparison. The only bad point was the oiliness of the surface, which you can probably see from the photos, but other than this, I would definitely, definitely recommend for any one who doesn't mind pushing their way past Oxford Circus crowds (or finding any of the many others dotted about London)! Click here to visit the Pho website.
Sushi-No-Mai: What a hidden gem this is! If it wasn't for me reading many food blogs I'd have never come across this place. Situated on the second floor of Watford Market (who knew markets had more than one floor?!), this little place is a real surprise! Now, I say market, but with the recent renovation of Watford Market, it doesn't feel like your average market stall. It's super clean, has doors and windows and plenty of space to sit inside and out. I've read that the head chef here used to work as master sushi maker in Selfridges Oxford Street, so I visited with high expectations and certainly didn't disappoint! We thought that there would only be sushi on offer but were very pleasantly surprised to find that there was a full menu of ramen, katsu curry and more! Of course with my love of noodle soups, I chose the seafood ramen. Usually just a handful of bean sprouts are thrown in, so the seaweed and other leaves was also a nice addition. My other half wasn't actually as keen on the base as me, but I loved the deep, slightly salty flavour - it just meant I didn't have to add nearly as much soy as usual! Again, I'm sorry to Wagamamas, but Sushi-No-Mai's soup flavour just out did Wagamama's. Anyone visiting Watford late week when the market is open, I would definitely recommend a visit here - but get there early, the seats fill up and they have a serve until they sell out policy which is usually before 3pm!
Click here to read about Sushi-No-Mai.
Shoryu Ramen: Saving the best until last. I headed here after a days work with a friend who also moved down from Birmingham. Knowing my love of asian food, she suggested this place after reading good reviews. Oh boy, were them reviews true! After a short wait, we were shown to a table. Everything was quite squashed in but with some plum wine in hand, and some piping hot, juicy prawn tempura to start, we soon forgot about the space issue. The menu was quite hard to read I felt, but the waiter was quick to suggest a dish for both of us. And he definitely chose well! I got a spicy minced pork ramen, topped with pickles, egg and seaweed which with the addition of ground sesame seed, all worked together amazingly. I'm not great at explaining flavours but it was rich, but not overpowering. Spicy, but subtle. This ramen blew Wagamama's out of the park, and just pipped Pho to the post too. Love ramen? Then Shoryu Ramen is the one to go to! Click here to visit the Shoryu Ramen website.
Are you a big ramen and noodle soup fan? Have you been to any of these restaurants? Or do you know anywhere even better for ramen?
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