Shoryu’s tonkotsu bone broth with gluten-free rice noodles packs a whole lot of flavour and umami, while their gluten-free hirata buns are filled with deliciously crisp fillings and perfectly matched sauces. Shoryu have completely mastered the art of creating delicious gluten-free dishes that don’t compromise on flavour or texture.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been to Shoryu, but it was my first time at the Soho location, just near Piccadilly Circus on Denman Street. I’ve been a massive fan of Shoryu for a while – I’d done a review around a year ago on this site, but wanted to focus more on the gluten-free offerings available.
The atmosphere at Shoryu is pretty casual – the trendy black and gold Asia-inspired fusion decor, combined with the fact that it’s always brimming with people gives the place a lively atmosphere. Depending on the size of your party, you’re usually sat immediately next to strangers on a long table, in line with the way ramen is traditionally consumed – hurriedly eaten seated beside strangers. One thing worth keeping in mind is that they refuse to seat incomplete parties, so if you are the type to get ‘hangry’, it might be worth coordinating beforehand.
My dinner companion was the lovely Priscilla from Food Porn Nation, formerly based in Sydney but currently blogging in London, and a fellow ramen fan. Once we’d been seated, we immediately got stuck in to the menu, questioning the waitstaff thoroughly regarding their personal preferences and recommendations. We started our meal with a bottle of umeshu – a Japanese plum wine which is a particular weakness of mine. Although delicious and enjoyable, it is quite sweet, and not necessarily a beverage I’d recommend with savoury hirata buns or ramen (although I will definitely end up ordering it again).
For starters, we went for the Shoryu hirata buns – their take on the steamed Taiwanese street food trend, which involves steamed bread-like buns filled with various savoury fillings. The gluten-free options for the buns included chicken karaage, a Japanese fried chicken dish made with potato starch (see my recipe here), as well a ginger salmon option. I was completely enamored with the latter – the crispy salmon skin combined with the soft texture of the warm bun was exquisite. The gluten-free buns were really something – I didn’t feel, as I often feel when having the gluten-free option, that I was missing out on anything at all.
For the main course I went for the restaurant’s signature dish – the Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu ramen. I substituted the regular wheat noodles for gluten-free rice noodles, similar to those found in Pho. The Tonkotsu broth is made by boiling down and reducing pork bones for hours on end, creating a rich, creamy flavour and consistency to the broth. I decided to go for the Shoryu Ganso Broth and skipped the nitamago which accompanies many of the ramen dishes, as the boiled egg is flavoured with soy sauce. Other gluten-free options are available, like Tori Karaage-men, which is made with a shiitake mushroom and kombu seaweed and soy broth.
As always, the ramen was spot on – the flavours of the broth were rich, delicious and comforting – and while the rice noodles didn’t quite compare to their gluten-filled equivalent, they were still satisfying.
Despite thinking we were well and truly stuffed, we ordered a couple of the mochi on the strong recommendation of our waiter, who favoured the raspberry and chocolate one in particular. Luckily, these were also gluten-free: the first bite was slightly surprising, as I was still expecting the traditional red-bean filling for the dessert, but the raspberry mochi (a sweet rice cake) was unbelievable – tart yet sweet, indulgent yet light – a definite winner. I wasn’t as keen on the Tiramisu, but that could be due to the fact that I am not a Tiramisu fan generally.
Around three or four sets of diners had come and go in the time it had taken us to finish our meal – not particularly unusual when a couple of food bloggers go for dinner. The service was prompt and efficient, yet I didn’t feel pressured or rushed at all to leave – the entire meal was extremely pleasant, and came to around £35 per head.
I strongly recommend Shoryu for gluten-free diners and their companions – a delicious meal in a low-key, smart-casual atmosphere in several locations: you’re onto a winner.(4.5 / 5)