Sometimes, you just need a hug in a bowl, something filling that warms you right to the bones. For those times, there's only one thing – ramen.
Proper Japenese ramen doesn't compare to its pretenders – it's a cut above the rest. You get a fragrant, rich broth filled with bouncy noodles, topped with prime cuts of meat, and finished with unique spice blends. And the folks at London-based Shoryu, Shin Ramen in Coventry and Brighton's Goemon Ramen know all about making the real deal.
A bowl of magic
Ramen's core ingredients are simple. The broth is traditionally made of meat stock, flavoured with all kinds of extras from mushrooms and kelp to tuna flakes or dried sardines. Sometimes there's soy sauce, other times there's miso, and then there's Kyushu's famous tonkotsu ramen made of slowly boiled-down pork bones. Vegan ramen often swaps the clear soup for a soy-milk based solution.
The rest of the process is easy – you drop in fresh noodles, and then add on some tender toppings. Eat the noodles and toppings with chopsticks, use a spoon to fish out the stragglers, and then tip your bowl up and drink the broth to finish.
Ramen has murky origins, but it's made with Chinese-style noodles – known in Mandarin as lamian. Every different region in Japan has its own specialty ramen, and you can get it anywhere from tiny hole-in-the-wall joints to Michelin-starred gourmet restaurants.
Japan might have a reputation as being obsessed with politeness, but all that evaporates around ramen. In fact, you're positively encouraged to slurp your noodles – it's thought that slurping means that the noodles get more air, cooling them down and giving them more flavour. So if you ever need to find a good ramen bar in Tokyo, just follow the sound of slurping.
Outside of Japan, we reckon Shoryu Ramen in London makes some of the best bowls around. You can opt for their vegetarian White Natural if simplicity is your thing – a soy milk, konbu and shiitake broth is topped with fried tofu, kikurage mushrooms, spring onions, nori seaweed and menma bamboo shoots. You might be missing a trick though, as their Curry Ramen is really something. Crispy karaage chicken, marinated egg, nori, naruta fish cake and spring onions are packed in a rich curry-soy pork broth. This hearty ramen hits the spot every time with its mix of spice, sweetness and slurpiness.
Shin Ramen are passionate about all things ramen-related. From a classic Miso Chasyu Ramen – made with a punchy miso broth and sweet roasted pork – to a seafood version packing in fish and vegetables, you know there's a ramen here for you. If you're feeling like going all-out on your ramen adventure, the Champon Ramen is the one for you: a tonkostu broth with melt-in-the-mouth pork belly and extra seafood, vegetables and egg.
Vegetarian and vegans can get in on the action too – not all takes on ramen are so meaty. Goemon Ramen's Veggie Miso Ramen is made from a seaweed and vegetable broth with thick wheat noodles, wakame seaweed, spring onions, memma, sweetcorn and bean sprouts. But if seaweed isn't you thing then plump for the vegan Soy Milk Ramen, topped with ginger, spinach, mixed vegetables and finished with striking black garlic oil.
If you're feeling like a bowl of ramen is what you need in your life right now, check out your options here on Deliveroo.