There seems to be something of a ramen craze at the moment in London. Anything Japanese is always in favour with hipsters and the high-minded alike, but it’s traditionally been sushi, with flashes of yakitori, katsu and udon fads latterly too.
But with Yo Sushi hailing their ramen with a lack of shame not witnessed since Costa’s Flat White, it’s definitely now a thing. Tonkotsu I’ve reviewed previously, and whilst I enjoyed it to a reasonable degree, it didn’t make a lasting impression with me. It’s become part of some folk’s regular rotation, but I've not returned and personally I much prefer the serenity of Koya.
Which brings me to Bones Daddies, an entirely different proposition. Sure, it’s located in Soho and takes no bookings, but it sets itself apart with a noisy, fun atmosphere some Japanese restaurants lack. Very few blast the AC/DC and Iron Maiden while you’re slurping your ramen, nor do they open past midnight.
Run by an international team of staff, it’s not as rock & roll as it might think it is, but I suppose if grasping for lazy comparables, it’d be the Meat Liquor of the noodle scene. Or maybe a Polpo. I was resisting those comparisons, honest. Just as well I’m not paid for this.
The food itself is very enjoyable. Kara age (£5), much like beef carpaccio, sausage pasta or pistachio ice cream, is one of the dishes I personally find it impossible to move past once I’ve clocked it on the menu. These were fresh, crispy and piping hot. Perfect.
My tantanmen ramen (£9) featured generous crumbs of pork mince in addition to a nice, not too fatty slice of chashu and an amazingly buttery egg. The soup was reassuringly low on the oil slick, and while you aren’t bored to tears with a tale of how sacred Middle White pigs are boiled on a full moon for 28 days in a two hundred year-old pot from Hakata, there is enough meaty flavour to know some meaningful prep has gone into it. Spicy too. Noodles are plentiful and the whole package is filling and great value.
My friend enjoyed his miso soy ramen (£9), with similar ingredients, but noted (and he has lived in Japan) that something about it felt slightly Westernised or wasn’t that traditional. This is supported by the variety in the menu I would say; there are about ten different types of ramen to choose from. Compare this to the concentrated specialism of the three dishes available around the corner at Tonkotsu, which is much more of a Japanese trait.
But I preferred Bone Daddies. It has identified a gap in the market (and the more measured authenticity of Koya for example, will always have its place) where Soho is crying out for later dining options – not to mention places to easily grab a late beer. Service was a little scatty at times, but it's early days and nothing drastic happened. The food is good, the 80s power ballads are better and the crowd is lively and upbeat. Definitely one for that repertoire.
Food – 8/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 6/10
Value – 8/10
Tap water tales – honestly cannot remember!
Staff Hotness – 8/10