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Kanada-Ya, Tottenham Court Road

May 10, 2016

My distaste for restaurant queues can be traced back to the time my entire party of four was unceremoniously booted to the back of line because I was a few minutes late. When you play the game of Meat Liquor queue, you win or you die. And by die, I mean you have to wait an extra hour for dinner and do the humiliating walk of shame to the end of the line. But alas, this is London and queuing is a reality. Only once I accepted this, was I able to even entertain the idea of dining at Kanada-Ya.

And was it worth the wait? Hellz yes. We planned our trip with military precision. Arrive on a chilly Saturday right when they open at high noon. The cloudy skies threatened a downpour at any second. Everyone arrived on time. But there was still a line-up about 15-20 people deep. You really can’t win in this city. The line moves fast though, thanks in part to the fishbowl-style large windows. Only a pane of glass separates you from the hollow-eyed stares of the hungry. We all ordered the “Original Ramen” which is 18-hour pork bone broth, secret sauce, hand-pulled noodles, chashu, pork, wood ear fungus, nori and spring onion.

You can order your noodles extra firm, firm, regular or soft (this is only acceptable if you don’t have teeth or are an actual baby). Just like in Japan, once you finish your first bowl you can order extra noodles to slurp up the rest of your broth. The broth is deliciously warming in the way that only incredibly soothing bone broth can be. I ordered my noodles “regular” and they were perfectly firm and and springy. My mom is an expert pho-maker and her broth would take 48 hours to cook. The proof is really in the quality of broth – most of the ramen places I’ve been to in London have really fallen short – it’s usually too salty with zero complexity of flavour. Not so here my friend.

Ordered some onigiri rice balls because waiting in a queue for my food makes me extra greedy. Rice balls aren’t anything special per se but I’ve always just enjoyed balls of plain rice sprinkled with seasoning. Maybe you will too? Service was quick and snappy – we had zero inclinations to linger and chat. I could feel 15 sets of eyeballs staring at us from the sidewalk.

Come here if you want an authentic bowl of Japanese ramen. Don’t come if want to make googly eyes  on a Tinder date and want to linger over a few drinks and chat in a candle-lit cellar. I recommend coming with a partner that you’ve been dating for several years who is used to seeing you face-plant a bowl of noodles on the regular. Kanada-Ya is all ramen business and not much else. And that’s not a bad thing.

UPDATE: There is new location in Haymarket near Piccadilly Circus where you can actually make a booking online. YES THERE IS A GOD.