|Address: 64 St Giles High Street, London, WC2H 8LE
Bookings: no booking allowed
If it had been the heart of the bleak mid-winter, then no better nourishment could have been imagined. The noodles are made on site using a machine imported from Japan; the broth is thick, bubbling with flavour; the tender pork collapses at the lightest of touches, melting in the mouth. An outstanding chicken karaage was about as a tasty as any I’ve had in London. If snowflakes had been descending outside, I would have hugged my broth to my chest and never let it go. But, instead, it was that most freakish of weather phenomena: a London day above 30 degrees centigrade.
Kanada-Ya, which was founded 20 years ago in a small city on the southernmost island of Japan, made the leap across to London in 2014. It opened its first premises around the corner from Tottenham Court Road Station, rapidly became a place of pilgrimage for devotees of ramen. It has since expanded, opening a second branch in Soho.
It is part of that exclusive club of restaurants people will queue long and hard to eat at. Aware of this, we arrived half an hour before opening, setting up base in a café across the road, watching the entrance to Kanada-Ya like hawks, ready to spring into action at the slightest hint of a queue building. For a few minutes, no one arrived. We were lulled into a false sense of security, relaxing our vigil.
Suddenly, glancing up, we saw to our horror a small queue of intrepid noodle-lovers had gathered outside the restaurant. Leaping up and discarding our coffee, we risked life and limb in a headlong sprint across the intervening road, winning ourselves a spot at the back of the queue, just in time for the first seating allocation.
If you love ramen, you must visit this restaurant. There is nowhere in London that does it better. But if it’s the hottest day of the year, perhaps don’t order the Spicy Yuzu Ramen…