18-hour ramen is the star at hidden gem city Japanese restaurant
- Credit: Lauren Cope
If I had to rank my favourite city restaurants, Soyokaze would be well up there.
I've never had a bad (or even average) meal, and it's a relaxed space you'd feel comfortable taking your parents, a date or a group of friends.
Still, despite its city centre location, it seems to be something of a hidden gem - tell a handful of people you're eating there and some won't have heard of it.
Its Japanese menu offers sushi, sashimi and hot dishes including beef teriyaki, chicken katsu curry and tempura.
But the star of the show is its tonkotsu ramen - a pork bone broth which is cooked for hours until it becomes a silky, rich soup, topped with noodles, soy marinated, soft boiled egg, nori (seaweed) and spring onion.
We picked a few dishes from its menu, starting with the takoyaki (£5.80), ball-shaped pancakes filled with octopus, topped with bonito flakes and Kewpie mayonnaise.
I absolutely love these - piping hot, fresh, crispy and incredibly moreish. The sauces are sweet and savoury, and I could have devoured a tray of them. Real comfort food.
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Next up was the sushi and sashimi - I went for California rolls (£3.20 for three or £5.90 for six), filled with avocado, omelette, cucumber, crab stick, mayonnaise and fish roe. I love the creaminess of the rolls paired with the saltiness of soy sauce.
These were generously-sized, fresh and eye-roll good.
We also had the small mixed sashimi platter (£13.50), which came with melt-in-the-mouth, buttery slices of salmon and tuna. Beautifully fresh.
It was also perfect ahead of our main event - two steaming bowls of the tonkotsu ramen (£14.50).
I asked Soyokaze how much time goes into each bowl - 10 hours for the broth alone, six to seven for the pork belly slices and two to three for the seasoning. Roughly 18 hours for one dish.
And it is a show-stopper - the broth unctuous and indulgent, and the slight saltiness of the melting pork belly the perfect contrast.
The ramen eggs were gooey and sticky, the yolk creamy, and the nori a punch of umami and saltiness.
A labour of love that ends up as a true masterclass in umami and balanced flavours.
Soyokaze offers desserts including mochi ice cream, which is wrapped in a thin layer of sweet dough.
It's light, bright and clean. You can grab a table tucked away upstairs, or watch the world go by from stools in the window. A relaxed, casual space, whether you want a quick bite for lunch or a more special meal.
About what you'd expect - the ramen at almost £15 a bowl might sound steep, but it's absolutely worth its price tag in terms of quality and effort that goes into it. Mains, including teriyaki and katsu options, hover around £14 and sushi platters go from £11 to £37.
There's a variety of alcoholic and soft drinks, as well as hot drinks such as green tea and, of course, bottles of sake.
Toilets are extra seating are upstairs, which may prove a problem for some, but there is space downstairs - though that may need to be booked in advance.
Prompt and friendly. They squeezed us in at the last minute and were very helpful.
The ramen. It's got to be!
A must visit if you've never been - somewhere different with consistently high standards.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.
Soyokaze, 13 St Giles St, Norwich NR2 1JL. 01603 616720
If you like that, try this:
- Shiki, Norwich - The longest-running Japanese restaurant in Norfolk, a trip there is a must for sushi-lovers. It's popular and it's easy to see why.
- Ciscoe's, Norwich - Ciscoe's offers creative sushi platters designed around diners' preferences and tastes. It also runs Japanese barbecue nights.
- Momiji, Harleston - Momiji offers sushi, hot dishes and dumplings among a varied menu.