Tonkotsu, Soho

Vital winter warmer

The Vibe

Tonkotsu will soothe any weary soul, the perfect Soho joint to share a hangover or pick a rainy day to bond over a warm bowl of noodles. The décor mimics the authentic Japanese noodle shops with its canteen-style dining and wooden tables, with reassuring touches of industrial chic (metal features, hanging lightbulbs) that redeem its trendy credentials. Service is perfunctory- you certainly won’t be charmed through the meal but rather left to the matter at hand. The place is inexpensive, the ramen noodles are delicious and, like an upmarket Cup-A-Soup, it’s a big hug in a bowl. Plus it has only just opened, so brownie points for being such a meticulous foodie.

The Order

There are essentially three ramen dishes you can choose from, so awkward menu-scanning time is kept to a minimum. The breakdown of the dish is: ramen noodles, tasty stock, pulled pork (chilli or plain), a soft-boiled egg (divine) and some vegetables. You can customise your meal as you wish, adding extras or taking elements away, but the point is that it’s simple and quick.

The Game

Make sure you tone down the efficient nature of this meal by ordering some starters with your glass of organic wine, thereby prolonging the process. Your date wants to feel at ease and not like this is just a routine feeding. If you can, pick a rainy or grim day- nothing like winning a date’s favour by raising their spirits from dampened to warmed with sparkling conversation and comforting food. This is the place to endear your date to your grounded and playful side. Slurp your noodles confidently, shoot your sake, play a bit of footsy, and ear drop on conversations at your shared table, making faces about the questionable comments coming from either side. At the end of the meal, maybe even go Dutch, to enforce the camaraderie of the place. Finish without a kiss but with a warm hug and definite plans to meet up that weekend. Groundwork laid.

The Faults

Sharing a table may annoy some, as eavesdroppers are at hand to witness both your winning and cringing attempts at flirtation.

Sex Factor

1. As I said, Tonkotsu is the place for groundwork. Be charming, be playful and remind the date that while seduction is important, there’s something to be said for ending up with a best friend.

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