Tonkotsu, Notting Hill, Ramen minus any taste
I’d been meaning to try Tonkotsu for a while as it is near home and a lot of people online consider it to be most authentic of the Ramen chains in London. I do love a ramen soup. Our long time favourite was the late lamented Ramen Seto behind Regent St which was basic inside but served up amazing bowls of noodle soups. My most visited restaurant of 2018 was the excellent Shoryu in Carnaby Court which never disappoints, the curry Ramen they do with kariggi chicken is seriously delicious. Having spent a fruitless morning at the Westfield trying get a replacement Nintendo Switch controller for Baby G I suggested to my lovely wife I meet her at Tonkotsu Portobello for lunch. We could have (should have) gone to The Electric around the corner but I’m boycotting it as they royally messed up our booking last time we went and were bloody rude when I complained.
So in we we went to Tonkotsu Portobello which consists of a long kitchen counter with seating along it and further seating in the rear. It isn’t by any means roomy and lacks the decor or friendly ambiance of other places we’ve tried. Anyway we take our pews at the counter and order some nice edamame beans and some hot jasmine tea. Normally I’m thrilled to sit at an open kitchen but this experience offers little theatre. Both cooks (they are not chefs) are unsmiling and miserable, their job appears to be to assemble ready made ingredients rather than display any culinary skill. I go for the signature pork tonkotsu whilst my wife opts for the chilli chicken version. Both are a big disappointment, bearing in mind the base broth is meant to be made from a flavoursome stock of pork bones this is utterly tasteless. the egg they put in is stone cold and the noodles claggy. I’ve had better pot noodles! My wife’s is no better, the chilli gives it more flavour but the decision to use a minced chicken means it all falls to mush after 5 minutes.
The chap next to us is having the pork belly special ramen which looks better but if you can’t get your signature dish right you should bugger off home. I’m also surprised how messy the kitchen is bearing in mind we enter on just after it opened at midday. It feels grubby and the presence of a worn plastic soup spoon instead of the nice lacquered wooden one you get at Shoryu confirms this place is lacks style. It’s the same price as Shoryu for much inferior food. our first meal out of 2019 has not been a success. Avoid this place you deserve better.