Shoryu is a name that gets thrown around in London by Ramen-seeking bellies. Despite recognition by the Michelin Guide, it is known beyond food connoisseurs and easily discoverable by word of mouth. I too found out about the restaurant this way. Having previously enjoyed meals here with friends, the Soho branch became my lunchtime choice on Chinese New Year when long queues in Chinatown suggested no seating would be available soon. Hunger makes decisions quickly. If dim sum or authentic chinese foods were not an immediate option, ramen seemed a reasonable backup.
For a restaurant with such levels of popularity, one should not expect to be seated immediately although I have found waiting times to be fine and estimated around 10-15 minutes. Notice how a drum is also beaten each time someone new walks in, and the individual/s are greeted by staff in Japanese.
Lowly lit but far from dingy, the restaurant boasts a range of Hakata tonkotsu ramen with a touch of authenticity from the Hakata district. With their executive chef from Hakata, the recipes are specially crafted to ensure thick broth, thin straight noodles and soft chewy meat. I ordered the traditional ramen from their menu and a chicken bao. The ramen as per previous experiences was very tasty. The texture was chewy and broth absorbing so unless you like noodles tasting thicker, aim to finish them as soon as possible. Strong broth can have the tendency to overwash all others flavours in bowl, including the meat, eggs and vegetables. However, I found the other flavours to still be present and their softness seemed to prolong the taste.
As for the bao, I liked the crispy barbequed chicken and found the bun to be sufficiently chewy/soft. My only recommendation would have been to be more adventurous with the salad for this was simply cucumber and lettuce. I felt this contrasted with the flavoursome ramen and in effect may be seen as simply a side dish. Whilst the core product is the ramen, bao receives equal attention from the same customers.
My original plan was to grab matcha dessert at Tsujiri, but upon realising Shoryu served this, I opted for a matcha float here instead. This is a matcha sundae comprising of ice cream, brownies, shaved ice and what I suspect is light, milky matcha latte. Matcha desserts scarcely find themselves reproached by me and this was no different.
Overall an enjoyable experience. As I said, this was not my first visit and if something keeps you coming back for more, it is doing things right.