Bone Daddies – real ramen in London

When it comes to good and proper ramen it is well known by London’s Japanese community that the British capital has been left wanting. When New York’s ramen scene took off a few years ago, with several famous names from Tokyo opening “satellite” eateries in the Big Apple, London was left to sulk with a selection consisting of Wagamamas and a few tired old restaurants dotted around Brewer Street. It has never been difficult to find ramen here, especially in and around soho; it’s just that nothing has come close to the stuff you get in Japan. Bone Daddies, which was opened last autumn by the ex-head chef of renowned restaurants Nobu and Zuma, is attempting to change things. Its specialty is tonkotsu ramen from Kyushu, and indeed the pork broth, made over a 30-hour period, was simply delicious. Despite the fact that the noodles were slightly over-cooked, both the tonkotsu and the miso versions we ordered were as close as we’ve come here to eating ramen in Japan. The J-rockabilly theme adds a bit of attitude, but the prices spoiled the overall experience: two bowls of ramen and two Asahi beers came to a pretty OTT £30. (I’ve been back there with some mates since, when three bowls, six beers and a few sides approached £100…!) Ramen is meant to be a cheap, quick, dirty but delicious comfort food, eaten while you’re sitting next to a sweaty salaryman or fellow hangover sufferers – not a trendy, expensive gourmet indulgence.


Vintage Lumiere 6×9 camera

This antique French camera caught my eye from a window of a secondhand shop. Couldn’t resist it, especially for only a tenner. I like the little intricacies and craftsmanship of it, the nice type faces on the lens barrel and the fact that it still has the instruction manual and case (although both have seen better days).

Ai Weiwei X Herzog & de Meuron Serpentine summer pavilion 2012

Each year the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park commissions the redesign of its summer pavilion, and 2012 is the turn of Chinese contemporary/dissident artist Ai Weiwei and architects Herzog & de Meuron. I know the latter from my time living in Tokyo – they designed the mind-bending bubble wrap-like Prada building in Aoyama (an area I loved strolling around and, for a while, working in for Metropolis magazine), which has become an icon of the city. This pavilion, in the loosest sense of the word, is sunken into the floor, with the roof a pond that mirrors the sky; the lounge an area made of cool-to-the-touch cork – perfect for a break from the sun… if London actually gets any more this year, that is.

Snaps from the British Museum

Through adult eyes the exhibits are still wondrous, but they give off an equally strong vibe of wrongdoing. How much would it cost to return them all?

Borough Market, Kappacasein – London’s best cheese sandwich?

Borough Market’s Victorian architecture sheltered us from the crap British weather this Saturday. After getting word of a stall selling stupendously tasty toasted cheese sandwiches we hunted it down and grabbed a couple. At £5 each they weren’t cheap, but who’d have thought two slices of poilâne sourdough bread, garlic, onion, leek and (a lot of) grilled montgomery cheddar could taste this good? The best cheese sarnie I’ve ever had. We squeezed in a salt-beef and gherkin sandwich from another stall, which, although a tad heavy-handed on the salt, was very good. Could have done with a cold beer to wash it all down.

Giant Avengers mural fills ad hoarding space

Passing through Old St we caught sight of artists finishing a giant Avengers Assemble mural in a standard ad space. A novel idea, but I wonder who will actually notice. (Saying that, we did.) It’s the work of illustrator Alex Young, while UK streetwear label Addict also had something to do with it. In the top right of the photo you can see one of cult artist Stik’s matchstick men. Personally, I think the sideways clown head on Hackney Rd is more likely to stop traffic.

Chain stitch at Son of a Stag

Living in Tokyo, it was easy to find a tailor who can shorten hems on selvedge-denim jeans and re-finish them with a proper chain-stitch machine. Along with the selvedge, chain stitching recalls an era when denim wasn’t mass produced; these days it’s a sign of a well-made “vintage” pair. Now that we’re back in London, I visited Son of a Stag at the Old Truman Brewery to get two pairs of selvedge jeans shortened. They sell a range of Japanese denim, including Momotaro from premium denim capital Ookayama, and they have several chain stitching machines – the sewing equivalent of gold dust in Europe. Needles to say (sic) they did a sterling job, and the A.P.C. pair came out better than their original state. Chatted with the owner about Buddy Lee, the Lee Jeans mascot. He has many; I have one from when I worked at the Lee store on Carnaby Street.