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“Best ramen in London” part 3: Cocoro, Marylebone

Here I continue my quest for the best ramen in London- in its most sinful version, the creamy, fatty pork broth tonkotsu. This review of ramen dinner at Cocoro is another post in my new series “Food Memos”- posts which are short, sweet and to the point. 

Cocoro Japanese resturant Marylebone

Where?

Cocoro is a Japanese restaurant in Marylebone, not far from Bond Street station and from the way more famous (at least amongst trendy London foodies) Patty and Bun. I bumped into a huge queue of people shivering in the cold outside the burger joint, whilst Cocoro was only half- full. I am not sure when Cocoro opened, but my guess is more than a few years ago as the place looks quite “lived in” and is not as upscale as you could imagine for a Marylebone address. The restaurant has two floors, the upper one pretty nondescript, the lower one with the characteristic low tables and tatami sitting in cubicles, next to a small bar area. There’s where we sat, next to an inordinate amount of sake bottles…

When?

On a drab Friday night in January (which might as well have been a March night), myself, Pooja- the charming writer of Table For One blog – and a friend met to try a lesser-known ramen in our quest for the best ramen in London, after having visited the obligatory new London spots – Tonkotsu, Bone Daddies and Shoryu ramen. The three of us had to sit at the bar as every other table was full, mostly of Japanese families and businessmen.

Cocoro Spicy tonkotsu ramen toppings sake bar

The spicy tonkotsu at Cocoro looks a fiery red, but it’s actually milky white underneath. Topping are quite scarce and the nitamago (poached egg) was overcooked

What?

Pooja and I were in just for one reason: tonkotsu ramen! So we couldn’t help but order it, although the sushi menu seemed tempting. The comparison game is quite addictive after you’ve tasted a few ramen you start being quite fussy about dissecting the elements (broth, noodles and toppings) to elect the “best ramen”… So it was tonkotsu and spicy tonkotsu for us with a side of soft shell crab, whilst our fellow diner had takoyaki (octopus balls) and char siu pork.

Sides were unremarkable, on the verge of dull, and in quite small portions. The slathering of mayo didn’t really do much to help (cue- I hate mayo).

The tonkotsu at Cocoro comes naked, with all the toppings on the side- so it’s easy to notice that the pork portion is VERY tiny (especially for the Marylebone price tag) and not looking very appealing- however, it was tasty and with a good fat/meat balance. I like the sprinkling of black sesame as well.

The tonkotsu broth was a winner- not as salty as in Shoryu, but tastier than at Tonkotsu and as creamy as the one at Bone Daddies, although less smacking-lips-fatty. The spicy version had just enough hotness in it for me. What really made it for me was the ramen- I wouldn’t know what it is, but the hakata (thin, wavy ramen) at Cocoro beat even the good one at Shoryu. It’s chewy, springy and tasty…too bad there’s only about a ladle of it! If I had a bigger stomach and wallet I’d easily ask for seconds.

How Much?

Cocoro sake bar and prices

Too much. At £14 for a smallish bowl of tonkotsu, this was probably not the best ramen in London but certainly one of the most expensive noodle dish I ever had  – although it’s a filling £14. The problem really comes with the sides and the other dishes- in our case, they weren’t good and two tiny starters and a meat main plus two ramen and water (no booze!) amounted to almost than £30 per head. You can do plenty with that money in any of the other ramen joints, including some serious cocktails, or at classics like Koya – with much better side dishes. I kept looking at the nearby tables where groups feasted on endless trays of sushi and couldn’t help but think of the bills- sorry, I am unredeemably working class, a bit like Grace Dent but just not rich now ;)

Why? Yay or Nay? Is it the best ramen in London?

Not really. Too bad for the noodles, which at Cocoro are really delicious, and the broth. But unless you’re stranded in Marylebone with some pounds burning a hole in your pocket, there are probably better options (not last, the nearby Providores if you go easy on the wine, or Patty and Bun if you like queues). As much as I wanted to discover the “hidden gem” amongst the London ramen, I am afraid Cocoro has been surpassed by the newer joints in terms of quality, vibe and value for money.

Those noodles at Cocoro, though…were dreamy. Does anyone knows what makes hakata noodles soo good (or bad?) 

 

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2 Comments

  1. it’s opening kanada-ya in giles street! it’s gonna be awesome!

    • I heard so! I am looking forward to Kanada-Ya, I hear good things,,,,

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