‘I ate the best ramen in London but was practically forced to leave the restaurant by the staff’ – Ben Kempton

Have you ever felt unwanted at a restaurant? This was my experience at London’s ‘best place to get ramen’. But in this rare instance, being practically forced out of the door by the staff might actually have been worth it for the food.

Supa Ya Ramen, on Kingsland Road in Dalston, is the latest East London food craze in an area that’s got top drawer restaurants and cafes in abundance. It opened in September last year and has queues of people waiting to get in most nights – a telling sign of the quality of any restaurant.

What’s unusual about Supa Ya Ramen is it’s like a hole-in-the-wall. Without knowing its prestige reputation that it’s gained over the past few months, you would easily walk straight past it.

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Each bowl of ramen costs £15

When you take a glance inside the narrow restaurant, there are simply a few tables and an open kitchen at the back so customers can watch the chef preparing their food. There is nothing on the walls, they’re just plain white. Think of a padded cell with a few tables, minus the lunatic in a straight jacket.

That makes it all the more baffling as to why people are fighting to get in every single night. We all love a bit of ambience. Considering it’s just up the road from Shoreditch, where most restaurants have become more about style over substance.

I recently saw a couple eating a meal out of a bath rub – this is quite the opposite. It certainly places a lot of emphasis on the food, because if that’s not good, a place like this wouldn’t survive five-minutes in an area where there are the likes of Smoking Goat and BAO Noodle Shop.

The menu is much like the interior – simple. There are five starters to choose from, four bowls of ramen (all costing £15) and three puddings to choose from. 12 items altogether. All alcoholic drinks are £5. It makes a Chinese takeaway menu feel like the length of the Bible. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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Supa Ya Ramen opened on Kingsland Road in Dalston in September 2021

After being seated by staff who barely raised a smile, they gave us approximately 30 seconds before returning to take our orders. When we asked if we could have a few more minutes, we got the same response that a teenager gives their parents after they’ve said no to giving her twenty quid to go out. When we were ready to order, we decided to go for all the bowls of ramen so we could try them all.

The banquet of steaming hot bowls arrived within 10 minutes. And they were mind-blowingly good. Who knew that a cheese ramen would work? You get a hit, the power of a Mike Tyson uppercut, of parmesan cheese combined with a rich, fiery broth.

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‘The chicken and sweetcorn ramen tasted like a Pot Noodle on steroids’

The chicken and sweetcorn ramen tasted like a Pot Noodle on steroids (that’s probably offensive to the chefs at Supa Ya Ramen, I know, but don’t underestimate my love for Pot Noodles) and the spicy beef and pickle bowl felt like it was cleansing my insides. The best thing about the ramen is the chewy, pencil-width noodles that are all made by hand. I didn’t like the celeriac ramen, but that’s because I don’t like celeriac – more a reflection on me than the ramen.

Just as we had the very last slurps of ramen, our waiter friend was back to collect all four bowls, which, by the way, couldn’t have been any more empty even if a dog had been let at them. With no time to digest the heavenly food we’d just consumed, we were slapped with the bill, which was around £60 – we reluctantly paid the service charge – and were ushered out of the door with a feeble attempt at a thank you. And that was that.

I understand it was a Saturday night, and especially for a small restaurant they need to turn over tables quickly, but it was without doubt the worst service I’ve experienced in London. Yet I still want to go back next weekend, and the weekend after that, and the weekend after that. And that’s testament to how incredible the ramen at Supa Ya Ramen is.

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