Shortly after Tonkotsu opened, I met an old guy in Japan who has been making ramen for over 50 years; he said to me, ‘if you don’t make your own noodles, you’re just a soup shop’. Fair enough, I thought, and so I embarked on a simple task to offer freshly made noodles at Tonkotsu. It turned out to be anything but straightforward.
Emma and I went to Japan and visited a noodle machine factory based in Tokyo. What we liked about this machine is that it uses a simple electric motor, gears and cogs, with no circuit boards - useful, we thought, in the absence of noodle machine mechanics in London! We also loved the mid century industrial design.
It ended up taking 6 months to ship our precious machine from Japan. This gave me time to work on the recipe.
For months, I couldn't find the right flour to give the noodles that 'bite'. It's easy in Japan because the Japanese - with their typical obsession to detail - have developed 100s of different types of ramen noodle flour so it's a matter of finding the one that will give your noodles the right characteristics. Here in the UK, it's a different story as we have none of these flours. So I searched for flour which on paper had a similar protein content to ramen flour. Unfortunately, many of the noodles I made ended up tasting like bread! Eventually I came across one that was just right from a specialist mill in Oxford. Phew!
Then I turned my attention to the water. To make ramen noodles with the right elasticity, the water needs to be soft and alkaline - our water in London is basically the opposite. So an industrial filter and alkaline salts were called in and voila, we present you with what we believe are the finest ramen noodles you'll find in London.