Arch 334 1a Dunston Street E8 4EB
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AKA: The one to get your slurp on to
The deal: If they call chicken matzo ball soup "Jewish Penicillin" then Tonkotsu is surely Japan's answer to a life-affirming broth. So it's no wonder there are now two restaurants in London bearing the dish's name. Starting off in Soho, the brand branched out in Hackney with the simply named Tonkotsu East in September 2013 and took over one of the buzzy arches by Haggerston station. Huge paper lanterns dominate the exposed-brick room, with their massive, especially-imported-from-Japan noodle machine, firing into action in its own glass window-fronted area at the end of the restaurant. Go on, marvel at its ramen-forming prowess before diving into a steaming bowl of the fruits of its labour.
The food: Back to the said restorative soup (£11) - the sea-salted pork broth is cooked for hours, giving it a thick, fatty texture that clings to your lips when you suck up those noodles. Forget an English Breakfast, this is how you kill off a lingering hangover in one dish. The ramen hold enough bite in them to last through to the end of the bowl, while the pork belly slices melt into the salty broth, enriched by the oozing yolk of the slow-boiled seasoned egg and crunchy spring onions and bean sprouts. Drooling yet? Good. If you wanted to switch it up, the Tokyo Ramen (£11) is slightly lighter, with a soy-sauce based pork and chicken broth instead. Sides of prawn gyoza (£5.75) are delicate and fragrant and the plate of piled high chicken Kara-age (£6) are sticky, crunchy mouthfuls of the juicy bird, marinated in the perfect combo of soy, ginger and garlic.
The signature dish: You're a fool if you walk out without trying the Tonkotsu.
The chef: Ken Yamada
When to dine: Weekday evenings and mornings-after-the-night-before
Damage to pocket: With a ramen soup costing £11 and a side, you're looking at about £20 a head for a good feed. We loved the touch of the free cucumber-infused jug of water on the table, too.
File under: Cheap chomps, mid-week munches, hangover-buster