Ducksoup: 41 Dean St, London, W1D 4PY
Tonkotsu: 63 Dean St, London W1D 4QG
Amorino: 7 Garrick Street, London, WC2E 9AR
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re wondering around looking for a place to eat yet just can’t put your finger on what you actually feel like? So you hop from restaurant to restaurant like a bee does flowers, aimlessly browsing menu after menu, searching in vain for an establishment that ticks all the boxes. But what happens when what you find yourself wanting is a variety of small dishes to start, a bowl of Japanese ramen for mains and some delicious Italian ice cream for dessert? Welcome to the start of my Soho food crawl.
My night started at the intimate Ducksoup located on the trendy Dean Street. The concept of Ducksoup is, in their own words, “Inspired by the neighbourhood restaurants of France” and as a result, the menu varies from day-to-day depending on what is in season. I’m always up for a bit of adventure though so was quite looking to the prospect of being surprised.
First up was the salt cod and tomato salsa ceviche which can only be described as salty amazingness. The cod was extremely well done with the salting penetrating right through the fish but still retaining good form and texture and coupled with the tomato salsa delivered a delicious combination of flavours. It was also drizzled with olive oil to which helped to offset the tanginess of the salsa to make the overall dish a bit smoother.
Next up were the fried courgette flowers served with aioli which were, to my surprise, unstuffed. I found the fact that the flowers retained their shape to be really impressive and is testament to how light the batter was though you had to be careful with the lemon juice as too much would make the whole thing collapse. The aioli was light and had a beautiful garlic aroma due in part because they were diced into reasonably large bits before being mixed. I really enjoyed this especially when I bit on a piece and the full garlic hit got released.
As some sides, we also got a portion of the sausages and sourdough. The sausage had a deep salty flavour and wasn’t too fatty or oily. It had great resistance to the bite but broke down when chewed. The bread as you would expect was fresh but the homemade butter was what made it. It was unsalted so at first was a bit bland for my liking; nothing a pinch of salt won’t fix though and after that, there was no going back.
Having worked up an appetite now, my next course took me across the road to Tonkotsu, a ramen joint I’d heard very good reviews for from the Twitter community, so let’s just say when I walked in and ordered my Tokyo ramen (a soy sauce base with pork and chicken stock topped with mirin and soy marinated pork belly, half a seasoned soft-boiled egg, menma and spring onions), I did so with expectations. What I had though certainly did not disappoint. The broth tasted delicious but was not overpowering so you could still taste the natural flavours of the pork belly and ramen (which were cooked perfectly al dente). The pork belly slices soaked in all the broth and were incredibly moist and sweet due to the marinade. A top bowl of noodles if I ever had one and I had to stop myself from getting seconds.
T though had given up on the courses after Ducksoup and jumped the gun early on dessert. She ended up getting some salted caramel ice cream little moons (essentially mochi) which I certainly have no qualms over (as it means I got some too). They were wonderful; the outside coating was firm and bouncy but not rubbery and the ice cream was very pleasant.
Last but not least, dessert brought me to Amorino for one of their infamous focaccina. This was something I had heard about and was very intrigued by; you choose your ice cream which gets put it in a brioche bun and then toasted for you. This is the very definition of an ice cream sandwich and one which even Willy Wonka must be impressed by. What more could a boy want for dessert?! Unfortunately though, I found the concept more impressive than the execution; the brioche was a bit stale and the overall product was a bit clumsy to eat. Add to that the fact that you have to eat it rather fast before the ice cream left the bun a soggy mess and you have an ice cream headache just waiting to happen. Disappointing but worth a try if not just to say you’ve had one.
And with that, my night of indecision ended with an unexpectedly good outcome. It might have seemed a bit extreme at the time but it actually made for a pretty good night out. Of course being in the West End on a beautiful night also helps. If this has inspired any of you to do the same or even consider it, then that would leave me a happy man and if you do go through with it, please do let me know how your night turned out when you let your stomach do the talking.