What do you get, how much is it and how easy to prepare?
Restaurant dining is sadly not an option right now. So when many of our favourite chefs and restaurants - who had never previously offered delivery - began to do so, with some getting really creative in the face of lockdown, we were intrigued.
One of the most popular features on Manchester Confidential has always been our honest, unannounced and impartial restaurant reviews. Our readers come to us for the lowdown, confident that we know our stuff and will tell it straight. Without restaurants, we've not been able to write restaurant reviews. But it’s what we do.
So we’re giving you the scoop on some of the many delivery options that have sprung up. We’ll buy it, eat it - cook it if we have to - and let you know how it was. We’re not going to be scoring these ‘reviews’ - it doesn’t seem right - but we’ll let you know what you can expect and where's worth spending your money.
What? Shoryu Ramen
I love cooking and have been making the most of the extra time lockdown has given me to do more of it at home. I’ve been baking bagels and babkas, proving pizza doughs, prepping pasta and pies and coming up with cakes. But even I CBA to stand over an aromatic pork marrowbone stock for 12 hours or hand-pull hosomen noodles. Also, I don’t have many of the specialist Japanese ingredients I’d need to garnish a ramen I’d laboured over from scratch.
Ramen kits are popular in Japan as they're a convenient way for people to recreate their favourite steaming bowls with minimum bother. According to the leaflet that came with the new DIY Shoryu Kit, a make-at-home version of their signature dish is something Shoryu Ramen have been wanting to try for a while. Now their restaurants are closed for now, they’ve finally made it happen. Fresh Shoryu ramen is now available in kit form for delivery across the UK, in partnership with their sister company, London-based Japanese food hall the Japan Centre.
What do you get and how much does it cost?
Each DIY Shoryu Kit contains almost everything you need to turn yourself into a ramen master and make the kind of warming bowls you’d expect to find at the Piccadilly Gardens’ branch of Shoryu, but in your own home. All that’s missing is the taiko drum they bang when you walk in.
Delve into the box, past the insulated sacks of cool gel and you’ll find enough ingredients for two people (although I ordered two kits for a family of four), all in neatly labelled plastic bags; original hosomen noodles, 12-hour tonkotsu soup stock, char siu pork belly, toppings of beni shoga red ginger, spring onions and shredded kikurage mushrooms and step by step instructions. Each kit for two costs £20 plus £6.94 postage.
What do you have to do and how difficult is it?
Shoryu promise that this DIY ramen experience can be achieved in your own kitchen in just ten minutes, and it was, pretty much. There are 14 steps to follow, all straightforward enough. The tonkotsu soup stock was milky and jellified, so just needed reheating with 400 mls of boiling water to turn it into a velvety soup base. While that’s gently simmering, heat a frying pan to crisp up the already-cooked pork belly and chop the spring onion. Then you need another pan full of boiling water to cook the noodles – which only takes 45 seconds. Drain the noodles, divide into bowls and pour over the hot soup. Then just copy the finished image by arranging the sliced pork, spring onions, shredded mushrooms and ginger.
Is it any cop?
Shoryu suggest optional extras you can add such as a boiled egg and squares of nori seaweed, which we did. My husband also drizzled his with a load of chilli oil, because he likes it spicy. The preparation may have been more involved that your average Pot Noodle, but it was definitely ten minutes of fun. The ramen was top quality and there was plenty of it.
Order your Shoryu Ramen DIY Kit from Japan Centre
Value for money
In the restaurant, a bowl of Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu signature ramen would set you back £12.90. Including the delivery charge (divided into two), the cost of the DIY delivery kit comes to £13.47 per person and you have to make it yourself, wash up and bang your own drum of course. So it’s comparably more expensive. However, these unusual times mean we’re missing restaurants and this was a true almost hassle free version of the ramen we miss. (Incidentally, for comparison, I decided to order a nearer to home version of Yao Yao noodles a few days later (review to follow) and that kit was cheaper and included a nitamago soft boiled egg and fancy chopsticks).
Packaging and delivery
What I haven’t mentioned yet is how tricky it was to get hold of one of these kits. They only make a limited number and new delivery slots are released every Friday morning for a following Wednesday or Friday delivery, up to one month in advance. There is also a maximum order quantity of three kits per order (six servings.) So I got myself all set up and ready at 8.59am on a Friday morning and the Japan Centre’s website kept crashing ‘under heavy load.’ For the next two hours, I kept trying to get back on to process my order, eventually getting confirmation at 11am.
The delivery bit was pretty straightforward. DPD text and email you who is going to deliver your package and when, and the box arrived the following Wednesday morning in perfect condition. Everything arrived fresh and fully chilled in neatly-labelled plastic bags – which is likely to be what bumped the price up.
Easy and fun.
Quality and quantity
High quality, no complaints. Although it doesn’t look much once it comes out of the box, there is definitely plenty for two.