Ramo Ramen (Filipino-Japanese) – Soho, London
The last time we visited Ramo in London’s Kentish Town – the UK’s first ramen restaurant to offer a fully Halal food menu – was back in December 2019.
Not only did we rate it an impressive 4.5/5, but its Miso Baked Shrimp Gyozas went on to win #FtLionAwards ‘Best Starter’ for 2020, while its Mango & Peach Pie was voted runner-up for ‘Best Dessert’.
Now, this is not to say that their ramens weren’t anything to write home about, they most certainly were.
In fact, their award-winning Oxtail Kare Kare, which triumphed in 2018’s ‘Battle of the Broths’ competition held by Timeout and Deliveroo, was one of three out of five bowls ‘Recommended’ by us, with the other two being the Sinigang, and the Spicy Tempura Shrimp & Clams.
Fast forward two years, and in spite of all the struggles the hospitality industry has had to face up to in recent times, Ramo have managed to launch a second site, located this time in the heart of the capital and Soho’s Brewer Street.
This two-floored establishment is certainly smarter than its more humble sister restaurant, with a seating capacity of 20 upstairs, and an attractively decorated private dining room downstairs that can accommodate up to 32 guests.
More impressively, Ramo Soho also boasts a menu with items unique to this branch alone, which includes a number of starters, as well as the restaurant’s signature Lobster & Crab Ginataan ramen.
A solid assortment of sparkling beverages here, with the zesty freshness of the Calamansi – a citrus fruit smaller than our native lime that’s known as a Philippine lemon – ending in a superbly sharp, eye-squinting kick that’ll prime your taste buds for what’s to come.
As for the other two, then while the Tamarind was a milder version of the citrusy Calamansi, which made for a more refreshing alternative, the Guana was more standard than anything else.
Yes, being roasted to a tee meant that these scallops assured that soft-spongy firmness; and yes, being baked in bagoong butter ensured the mild scent of fermented fish paste; but, ultimately, it was the squeeze of the concentrated calamansi lime that provided that sour edge, whilst elevating these molluscs to unknown heights of dazzling deliciousness.
One of the best we’ve ever had, and made even better when paired with the garlic bread below.RECOMMENDED
What we had here was literally a single, uber-thick slice of Filipino bread called Pandesal – traditionally made of flour, yeast, sugar, oil, and salt (Pan de Sal meaning Bread of Salt) and cooked fresh at their sister-brand Panadera before being brought over daily – that was soaked to the core in garlic butter, before being beautifully toasted to a crispy finish.
Dunked in the buttery residue of the aforementioned Roasted Scallops just made for a match made in heaven!RECOMMENDED
Taking anything classic, especially one that’s simple to begin with, and improving on it, is a feat in itself. Yet, that’s precisely what Ramo has done with this Pinoy Qaesar Salad by cleverly putting a Filipino-spin on the caesar salad.
Not only did they succeed in substituting the traditional croutons for large, pillowy-soft pandesal cubes fried to achieve an incredibly light and crispy exterior, but also served a smooth and silky cream sauce with mellow vinegary undertones, before finishing everything off with plenty of Halal parmesan finely grated over the dressed gem leaves.
A delectably rustic plate which, despite its size, turned out to be an eye opening appetiser, with one Lion remarking: “One of the best I’ve had.”
This Octopus Kinilaw is the Filipino equivalence to a South American ceviche, with the tender and meaty chunks of the cephalopod being cured, once again, using the ever-versatile calamansi.
It’s quite extraordinary how a generous squeeze of this green and orange fruit can help heighten the flavours beyond what would otherwise have been merely a deliciously refreshing salad.
Instead, this wonderfully balanced and appealingly colourful bowl of zesty goodness, with gentle heat pleasantly lingering in the background, was bumped up those few extra notches to leave a lasting impression.
Another tremendous dish this Wagyu Bistek Donburi, defined, it goes without saying, by slices of the glistening beef, which turned out to be tenderly chewy, courtesy of all that attractive marbling.
With a beautifully seared rim, the wagyu itself was coated in a smoky glaze which, when combined with caramelised onions that imparted a touch of the sour – thanks to the toyomansi soy sauce containing calamansi – and the rich earthiness of the egg yoke, delivered on those umami tastes.
If there was a shortcoming, it was that we would have preferred all that rice beneath to be of a more stickier kind.
You can understand why, once this thing of beauty is placed before you, the Lobster & Crab Ginataan is Ramo Soho’s signature ramen.Advertisement Advertisement
Exclusively available only at this branch, we were presented with a generously sized lobster tail swimming in a smooth broth, respendently dressed in plenty of condiments, and all completed with a lobster claw too.
The broth itself? Enriched with plenty of butter, and flavoured by a sweet-and-sour combo that was exquisitely balanced, it was absolutely divine.
The choice of noodles too was a masterful stroke, with its firmer texture contrasting perfectly with both the variety of elements therein and the lobster meat – the latter demands being thoroughly dunked in said broth before enjoying its tender chewiness.
All in all, arguably one of the best bowls of ramen we’ve ever had!RECOMMENDED
The second time was just as pleasurable, if not more so, with a broth that was driven by the umami-richness of the beef and, of course, that gloriously meaty mound of pulled oxtail.
Here again, the pairing of the firmer Tokyo noodles with the gummy strands of pulled beef worked perfectly in tandem to offer extended bouts of enjoyment.
And yes, we were guilty of ordering two eggs to really add that extra level of luxury to what was otherwise a strongly seasoned broth.
Of the four ramens tried, this Chicken Sopas was the most measured, with a clean chicken-flavoured broth which, following that deeply satisfying opening slurp, quickly mellowed out into something more soothingly satisfying.
While the soft chunks of chicken therein undoubtedly delivered on that unmistakable roasted quality and taste, the crispy chicken skin wasn’t quite there, betraying instead an overly chewy texture.
And though the assortment of condiments in these ramens always play their respective roles in adding a subtle variety of textures and flavours, thereby helping to augment the overall taste experience, what this broth could have done with was that something extra (ginger strips perhaps).RECOMMENDED
This Miso Mushroom Ramen – Ramo’s clever interpretation on a cream of mushroom soup – turned out to be the surprise package of this review.
While an assortment of quality mushrooms helped to deeply infuse this broth with a sophisticated flavour profile that ebbed and flowed in waves of soothing goodness, the accompanying padron peppers and herbaceous seasoning assisted in making this a phenomenally good bowl. In fact, we’d be hard-pressed not to call this our second best ramen.
Surely there cannot be anything more sought after following a bowl of hot ramen, than a sweet and sugary dessert.
This Mango Peach Pie is ridiculously satisfying, with hot packages of fruity goodness, all encased in a crispy pastry, being served with a cold mango custard to end your visit to Ramo on a heady high.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
In fact, we're thrilled to announce that the shortcomings we encountered then haven't just been resolved this time round, but addressed in such a way as to earn them a perfect 5/5 rating.
From the innovation put into their starters, to the careful thought invested into creating their Filipino-infused Japanese ramens, it's evident that Ramo have pushed themselves to improve their brand and menu; and by golly did it show! If you're looking for Halal ramen in London, look no further.
We've teamed up with Ramo to offer an extended lunch time offer that's valid until 28th January 2022. 20% off the à la carte and drinks menu at either branch, Soho or Kentish Town, between the hours of 12-4pm, Monday to Thursday only (prebooking and a mention of this discount will be required).
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