On a chilly evening just before Christmas, I visited the newly opened Shoryu Ramen in the Westgate shopping centre for dinner with my boyfriend, Jamie. We received a warm welcome and were taken to our seats with the beating of a traditional Japanese drum and ‘irasshaimase’ greeting shouted by all the staff. Our waitress (I’m sorry I didn’t take a note of her name!) was extremely friendly and though everything was marked clearly on the menu she offered me the allergen menu in addition if I wanted. We had a chat about how many restaurants don’t seem to cater so well for different dietary requirements, and she explained she has a friend who is gluten-free and struggles so she understands how it can be difficult. In any case, between the multiple options on the menu, clear labelling, and clued-up staff, Shoryu seem to have got everything right on that front.
We tried a couple of the sides as starters, and arriving first was the black sesame tofu. It comes topped with a small amount of tenderstem broccoli and covered in a miso dressing. It was very different from the deep fried tofu starters we’ve had at other restaurant, as it came as a dark block of soft, silken tofu. It wasn’t what we were expecting and felt like a healthy, protein packed start to the meal. The broccoli was cooked perfectly. The tofu itself didn’t have lots of flavour as you might expect, but the very sweet miso sauce and plenty of sesame seeds made for an interesting starter. I felt like this was a nice one to share with someone else as I was having tofu in my main too.
We also went for the shishito padron peppers, beautifully chargrilled and covered in sea salt. I didn’t really get any of the citrusy yuzu flavour I was expecting as described on the menu, however they had a pleasant bitterness which complemented the sweetness of the tofu dish we’d also ordered. Again, this was a nice sharing dish, as there were certainly lots of them on the plate, but at £7 for a side, I would hope so too!
There are two vegan ramen options on the menu: the staple White Natural, and the option I went for, the Spicy Vegetarian. There was a chilli marked next to the dish on the menu to suggest it was hot, but it didn’t seem remotely spicy to me at all. When ordering, you’re asked how you would like your noodles cooked, from ‘firm’ to ‘just dunked in the water to get the flour coating off’ essentially. I do tend to prefer things al-dente but being a Shoryu virgin I went for what I felt was the safe option at the more cooked end of the scale, though perhaps next time I might be a bit braver! I did enjoy how the noodles were cooked though, obviously heaps better than some of the soggy noodles I’ve had in the past at home. They swam in a deep bowl of the Shoryu creamy signature broth, which is made with soy milk and flavoured with shiitaki mushrooms, miso, and konbu. Floating in the broth too were lots of spring onions, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, a little more tenderstem broccoli, and a few slices of tofu, with nori balanced on the side of the bowl. I mixed all the nori in and sadly came to regret it as it tasted too much of the sea for me (Jamie however loves that nori flavour). The bowl overall was super warming, comforting and filling, and tasted extremely authentic to me – at least, compared to the other westernised chain restaurants I’ve visited, having not actually been to Japan.
The restaurant has quite a romantic atmosphere, though Jamie and I slurping our way through our ramen agreed that it might’ve made a rather awkward first date on that front. From some of the higher tables you can see the chefs working on the food through the open kitchen. I didn’t get to try it this time, but you can also get a yuzu sorbet for dessert. You probably know my opinions on sorbet by now but having tried most flavours you’d expect to see on a restaurant menu, yuzu is definitely my favourite, so hopefully that’s a good sign that it’s very possible to have a tasty three course vegan meal here. The service was fantastic, price for a main course seemed reasonable, and we had a really lovely evening, so I would definitely recommend Shoryu for a nice evening out.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Shoryu Ramen to try some of their vegan options free of charge; this review is my honest opinion of the experience.