ten ten tei: no nonsense, no frills
Sometimes, it’s best not to be overly ambitious. Ten Ten Tei, a modest, black-bricked ramen-ya directly across Brewer Street from the more renowned Taro, succeeds by being low-key, all spartan interiors and stern-faced old men standing at attention. Rarely do I ever feel too intimidated to whip out my camera and snap a few shots, and yet, at Ten Ten Tei, I couldn’t help but feel a watchful eye on me at all times during a mid-afternoon slurp there.
Real or imagined, the ramen at Ten Ten Tei was entirely worth the faintly oppressive vibe in the air. I’ve yet to find a more competent deep broth shoyu ramen in London; paired with Ryo just a few paces to the west, the two restaurants form a shoyu ramen yin-yang - while Ryo’s soup is light and delicate in taste, while its ambiance is casual and youthful, Ten Ten Tei, by contrast, is heavier, darker, no-nonsense, no-frills noodling for the hungry diner.
While Ten Ten Tei does cater to the demographics (there are, again, a sushi bar and a disturbing array of tempura and teriyaki sets on the menu, which are probably quite fine), the restaurant is by all acccounts, a ramen shop at heart. This is evident in the care with which the chashu has been bound and roasted in the time-tested manner; the resultant slices of pork are soft and flavorful and a standout component of the ramen. I suppose I’ll never get used to the snow peas, but the bamboo shoots are likewise competent, fresh with just the right amount of crunch.
Two out of three ain’t bad, for while the noodles suffer from the same spongy condition as found in a majority of the local shops, the soup is the thing whereby one can truly award Ten Ten Tei the seal of decency. Aromatic and subtle, with a hint of dashi and a deep shoyu infused flavor, it could survive in Tokyo as the signature of a — well let’s not blow things out of proportion — a typical ramen shop. In a land of chips, curries, and minced pies, that’s pretty much a godsend.
|deep, aromatic, and subtle, ten ten tei's shoyu ramen soup has just the right hint of dashi and dimension. it could even survive on tokyo's mean streets.||8|
|spongy and formless, the noodles at ten ten tei unfortunately fail to escape the same fate of those at ramen at shops across london. a minor misstep in an otherise solid bowl.||5|
|tender, flavorful chashu, roasted in the proper manner. never mind the snow peas, the bamboo shoots are fresh and crunchy.||6|
|ten ten tei's gyoza are fried to a nice crisp; alas the innards of pork and vegetable are a bit mushy.||5.5|
|the two gruff old men manning the room at ten ten tei are a bit intimidating. maybe it was because i was seated directly in front of the cash register, but I could feel their watchful eye on me the whole time. maybe it was just my imagination. they could play up their sternness as a gimmick.||3|
|solid, workmanlike ramen in the heart of London. good stuff, if not great. in a land of chips and curry, ten ten tei may well be a godsend.||6.5|
56 Brewer Street
noon - 2:30pm