Shoryu Ramen, a restaurant from the team that created
The night opened with some traditional Japanese drumming from Oxford Taiko, and a choice of wine, beer, ginger ale, or a 'Welcoming Cocktail' that combined sake, pineapple juice, almond syrup, Japanese rum and turmeric chai into a warming mix - perfect for a gloomy winter's evening. The restaurant itself was exactly what one would imagine for a very upscale ramen bar - long communal tables, ultra-modern decor accented with kanji, and a window through to the kitchen where you could watch the chefs work.
A brightly-coloured sashimi platter dominated one of these long tables, while the others were soon stocked up with sushi, spoons of diced smoked salmon, canapés, and cooked meat on sticks. The sushi was excellent - fresh and flavourful, and much more filling than I expected. I'm not an expert when it comes to sashimi, but there was a huge variety of different cuts of fish, all of them tender and very moreish. The cooked beef on a stick was melt-in-the-mouth, and the chicken karaage was crisp and delicious.
The highlight of the night was the founder Tak Tokumine's speech, and the following sake ceremony. Mr Tokumine thanked his team and his partner and Executive Chef Kanji, whose recipes we'd all enjoyed that night; he also revealed the exciting news that Shoryu Ramen was now a member of the Japanese Ramen Association, a testament to how seriously they take their work. After this speech, Mr Tokumine and the restaurant manager broke open the wooden barrel of sake with mallets, and handed the drink around in traditional square wooden cups, which gave an interesting smoky taste to the smooth sake.
My only criticism of Shoryu Ramen would be that the long tables don't really work as part of a stand-up event - they made it somewhat difficult to circulate and mingle. This wouldn't be a problem for everyday diners, however, particularly for those already used to sitting at communal tables.
It's easy to see how