I came to Bone Daddies, a newish unpretentious ramen joint, for the first time about a month ago and the whole time I sat on my stool chatting with friends, I felt like I should be taking notes and pictures and composing my blog about the experience in my head. It’s an occupational hazard. Alas, I also wanted a night off from the critiquing and the obnoxious flash of my camera phone, and so I relented, relished the meal and my dining companions, knowing I could come back soon and tell you all about it.
Yesterday was the first time my husband and I have celebrated Valentine’s Day together in our four year relationship AND he wasn’t working! The stars really were aligned, but neither one of us goes in for a fancy meal, chocolates or roses just because it’s February 14th. I’d rather get tulips at a fraction of the price as a surprise or stumble upon a great meal while wandering the streets together. No red hearts and cupids for me please! In an effort to avoid the schmaltz and crowds that would inevitably clog every restaurant in this city for dinner, I suggested we head back to Bone Daddies in SOHO for lunch and then walk over to Covent Garden and check out Balthazar’s bakery shop (see yesterday’s post: http://chefsallyjane.com/2013/02/14/balthazar-has-landed/). For me Valentine’s Day couldn’t get much better.
The breeze was warm and the sun really made an effort to help the illusion that spring isn’t that far off. Dear husband and I made our way through the twisty, cobblestone streets of SOHO, stopping and looking at other restaurants’ menus as we went and making notes for future excursions. Bone Daddies had only just opened so the room wasn’t jam packed like our last visit. We sat on stools (well, everyone does, so if you’re a fan of comfort this isn’t the place for you) with a view out the large front windows at the parade of characters that haunt this neighborhood.
It’s quite a large space full of communal tables, friendly staff and a soundtrack that doesn’t make me feel like the ancient dinosaur that I am. I barely looked at the clipboard menu because I knew I wanted my own bowl of what Darling Husband had ordered last time. The promise of a 20 hour pork broth in their Tonkotsu Ramen had drawn me in last time, but he had ordered the Tantanmen and I had succumbed to serious food envy. We started with yellowtail sashimi with chilli, lime, soy and coriander. The thin slices of yellowtail are served on skewers with a round of green chilli and a coriander leaf placed on each piece. The whole plate is then doused in the lime soy dressing. As delicious as I remembered! Last time we also had the fried soft shell crabs with a green chilli and ginger sauce – my goodness was it fantastic (but we were trying to be a little less gluttonous this time).
Steaming bowls of ramen soon followed. The tantanmen is a chicken bone broth with loads of sesame, spice galore, pork mince, bamboo shoots, bok choy, a clarence court egg, and bean sprouts . It is heavenly. The sesame is what does it for me – it’s almost a peanut butter-ish effect in the broth making it a little more substantial. I love the way the pork mince easily blends with the noodles to all get picked up in one big mouthful. I would appreciate a little more of the bok choy in the ramen, but that’s just me – oh, and I asked for mine to be made at half spice. Even with this direction, my nose was running and my mouth tingling. Be warned! My husband loved experimenting with the various condiments that they offer on each table – pickled garlic cloves and a garlic press (see the picture), a sesame seed mill, various chilli oils and a jar of rubber bands so you can tie your hair back and not have it fall into your soup. This isn’t my beloved David Chang’s Momofuku Ramen, but it’s not trying to be and it satisfies me equally and for that I’m terrifically grateful!
Both of us were eager to get back out into the sunny streets and walk hand-in-hand to our next greedy destination. We paid only £40 including service for our multi-course menu with drinks and I was feeling quite smug about escaping the usual Valentine’s Day mark-up. I love this restaurant for having really great food at reasonable prices that I can pop in and enjoy on a whim. London didn’t have many of these kinds of spots when I first arrived here but it’s picking up the pace and filling what was a void in their dining scene. Hurrah!
30-31 Peter Street, London, W1F 0AT
t: 020 7287 8581
(no reservations taken – but they will bring you drinks while you wait)