One of the general maxims about London dining is to never randomly walk into a restaurant without doing some research first. As this randomness has a very high chance of excitement.
So, in a moment of madness, when someone walked past and spotted this new ramen place along Shaftesbury Avenue, we decided to try it despite not having heard of it before. Was this to be an Aberdeen Angus moment?
Yamagoya appears to have arrived with minimal fanfare – their publicity states that this is a pop up of a ramen chain that started off in Fukuoka. Although interestingly their Thai franchise is what comes up first on google. They had set up shop on the first floor of Shuang Shuang – an interesting use of restaurant space as on a Sunday evening, there was a queue of people trying to get into the hot pot competition downstairs. There wasn’t really a separate group of people waiting with baited breath to try Yamagoya and the restaurant was probably no more than two thirds full.
We sat down and were promptly given a menu with a short selection of starters and various ramen dishes cooked with a choice of pork, chicken or vegetable broths. So far, so very similar to the other ramen places that have proliferated in London in recent times. So, would this newcomer bring something different to the (somewhat saturated) ramen market? Apparently not.
The first of our starters to arrive did not make a good impression. These looked like miniaturized versions of what the horde of other restaurants pile up. Somewhat measly and on the slightly tasteless side, they could have put in a bit more stuffing and salt if they wished a first hand shake of greeting to go better.
These were better – although there is another maxim (I’m on a roll today) which says that it’s generally very hard to go badly wrong with fried chicken. After all, copious amounts of oil usually cure all defects. These were decent enough, our only quibble was the (slightly) steep price of £6.50. Guess with crude increasing on the global market, cooking oil may be doing the same.
We moved on from starters to their signature ramen. This was ok – a rich broth, all the right toppings and slightly firm but tasty chashu pork. Satisfying on a cold (almost) winter night. Although nothing to really write home about.
Overall, Yamagoya’s ramen was average. So, as a random walk-in place, one could have done a lot worse. They probably rank somewhere along the likes of Shoryu although probably about 10-20% pricier – not quite in the Kanada-ya league yet (or dare I say ever). If you are desperate for something to fill your belly and aren’t overly picky, I guess you could do worse than this. As for hard you might have to look, I’m holding my tongue.
A quiet eating 6/10
Approximately GBP18 for a starter and bowl of ramen excluding drinks and service.
1st Floor of Shuang Shuang
64 Shaftesbury Ave, London,