They say the best kind of PR a restaurant can hope to get is a constant and steady queue of people outside. Humans are an inquisitive race and nothing evokes FOMO quite like a queue. If people are willing to wait in the cold for a meal, it must be good, right? In the case of Kanada Ya, yes, very right indeed.
The original Kanada Ya can be found at Central St Giles in the shadow of the colourful high-rise buildings, and as sure as death and taxes, there would always be a line of hungry customers queuing outside, waiting to get their hands on a bowl of the signature Tonkotsu Ramen. The queues were so long that I often forwent food here, unable to use up 70% of my lunch hour to wait for my meal. This new (ish) venue on Panton Street is bigger, and better prepared to cater to the demand created by their authentic Japanese bowls of rich, flavoursome ramen. With bright white orbs suspended from the ceiling lighting up the room with its brick walls and pine constructed dining booths, it has an obvious and clear identity that continues through to the menu.
The Food and Drink
Ramen is the headline act of the menu at Kanada Ya, but your choice isn’t limited to the classic Tonkotsu recipe that they are so well known for. If you aren’t clued up on the different ramen varieties, you might be a little overwhelmed and confused by the 8 options on the menu, but I would argue that you won’t go far wrong with either of the classic £10.50 Tonkotsu bowls, or the Chashu-Men, which was my order of choice at £13. Made with a pork bone broth, chashu pork collar which melts in the mouth, wood ear fungus (it sounds vile but I promise it’s delicious), seaweed and spring onion, there is so much unique and exciting flavour going on that your mouth won’t know what’s hit it. You can choose what kind of noodles you want, but they recommend hard noodles and I figure they know what’s best for their dishes. There are also a few extra toppings you can pimp your ramen with, and I would say that you would be a fool not to add the Hanjuku Egg for £2. This cured brown egg has a sweet and silky yolk that makes all other eggs pale in comparison and elevates the whole bowl substantially.
On the side you could opt for one of the small plates. The Japanese Fried Chicken arrived piping hot and crispy, with a steaming and juicy middle that you can dip generously into the yuzu mayonnaise, and the Truffle Edamame arrives with an undeniable waft of truffle. They’re soft and pop effortlessly from their pods. Both of these small plates will only set you back £4.
The good news about Kanada Ya Piccadilly is that unlike their Covent Garden based sister, they actually take bookings, so if you’re desperate to get your ramen fix you aren’t going to be forced to queue outside for the duration of your lunch hour. You really won’t find a more authentic and unique bowl of tonkotsu ramen anywhere else in London.