70s Japan and a fine bowl of ramen at Heddon Yokocho
Lucky for us that we live in a city which is home to the entire world’s cuisine. With that in mind, take yourself down to Heddon Yokocho on Heddon Street, Mayfair. If a restaurant was ever an immersive experience, this is it; transporting you to the noodle bars found in the alleyways of 70s Japan. Yes, it is as dreamy as it sounds but more importantly, it will dazzle you.
From the entrance decorated with bright orange paper lanterns and a moving set of red chopsticks pulling noodles out of a bowl, Heddon Yokocho is welcome respite from adjacent Regent Street. Step inside and be greeted with 70s retro Japanese adverts, neon street lights and more lanterns overhead. I was wowed. Not having stepped on a plane for the best part of a year this felt exactly like the escapism I needed.
There’s a temperature check before you enter and you’ll be asked to check-in with the track-and-trace app. There’s plenty of hand sanitiser throughout the restaurant – just to put you at ease.
In keeping with the alleyway noodle bars of Japan, the furniture is fashionably basic – formica tables and chairs, stools and crates with cushions on them, tin cans with chopsticks and paper napkins. There are booths and an outdoor courtyard if you prefer to dine that way.
The long bar however, is a different affair altogether. A well stocked bar, mismatched tea cups, glasses, a table-top pin ball machine and a fire-beathing Gojira figure – all well placed to make you gravitate towards it. The open kitchen at the back is another draw. Stacks of plates and red bowls pile high on the counter and on shelves far back. Chefs, in red t-shirts, move about as they cook. It’s street theatre.
As I waited for my plus one to arrive, I ordered a pot of Soba – decaffeinated buckwheat tea. It tasted far too good for something that has no calories. The menu also has Hoji – roasted green tea and Genmai – brown rice and green tea. Starting at a very reasonable £3.20 there’s no excuse to try as many as you can manage.
My plus one arrived and ordered a non-alcoholic cocktail which she loved. The cocktails and highballs list at Heddon Yokocho is fantastic and prices start from £7.00. I opted for plum wine (£18.00 for a 300ml bottle). It sipped nicely as I waited for my ramen.
Mine was Kumamoto Tonkotsu (£13.90) a 12 hour cooked pork broth with garlic oil and fried garlic with kikurage, bbq pork belly, spring onion, nitamago egg, nori seaweed, red ginger and beansprouts. It was a bowl of ramen big enough for two and utterly delicious. We also had sides of pork gyoza (£8.25 for six) and takoyaki (deep fried octopus balls with japanese mayo – £8.00). Desserts of matcha cheesecake (£5.50) and a scoop of mango mochi (£2) too were delicious.
We ate slowly, chatted for hours and enjoyed the ambience of Heddon Yokocho. Altogether it was a wonderful meal in vibrant surroundings that still provided enough privacy to enjoy a long evening, catching up with a friend. Oh, and the service was faultless. We’d go back in a heartbeat.
London W1B 4BU
Written By Demi Perera