Since Kanada-Ya opened last autumn in St Giles, the restaurant has attracted steady queues of people waiting patiently for a fix of authentic tonkotsu ramen.
The good news for those shivering outside is, Kanada-Ya is not the kind of place you linger for ages. The menu is ultra streamlined, offering just three choices of piggy goodness (vegetarians, look away now). Sure enough, a couple of spots at a window bench became available fairly quickly.
The original, most straightforward option is the Original: 18 hour pork bone broth and hand pulled noodles, topped with pork belly slices, nori seaweed, and dinky piles of julienned wood ear fungus and spring onion.
I opted for the Moyashi ramen, which introduces blanched beansprouts into the mix. I also couldn’t resist an extra topping of Hanjuku egg, a cured Burford Brown which arrived with a rich, technicolour, wobbly yolk.
Kanada-Ya’s signature 18 hour pork broth has a glorious clarity of taste and a distinctly gelatinous, sticky texture – the restaurant credits their chefs’ meticulous simmering and regular skimming for the end result.
It’s not all about the broth though; the noodles are prepared with equal care, made on site with a specially imported bit of kit from Japan to produce a bouncy, firm noodle capable of standing up to the rich broth. It’s possible to request how you like your noodles cooked when ordering; the staff recommend “hard” because the noodles continue to soften in the steaming broth while you slurp away at your bowl.
Next time I will have to try the Chashu‐men ramen, which replaces the standard chashu pork belly with large slices of the meatier chashu pork collar.
We also tried Onigiri, seasoned rice balls wrapped in nori seaweed with various stuffings.
The one with Japanese sour, salty pickled plums in the middle was a fantastic bar snack to accompany a refreshing bottle of Asahi.
Kanada-Ya serves food worth waiting for – and with the new heaters promising to keep patrons toasty warm as they inch closer to a fantastic dining experience, I’m sure there will be queues for a long time to come.
64 St Giles High Street