Japanese is probably my favourite cuisine. However, London (as with anything) has a tendency to overcomplicate things. Rather than letting great food shine, they overdo it and focus on fancy backdrops, liquid nitrogen masterpieces and dishes with more focus on the ‘show’ than the taste. Sometimes, it’s nice to go somewhere fuss free, a no frills (but clean and comforting) place, centred on creating amazing flavours with affordable price tags.
Luckily, that’s what I’m going to be talking about today – having come across the cutest little ramen restaurant – tucked slightly away from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly in Panton Street. With an open kitchen and the option to watch while the talented chefs prepare your meal, it’s a great place to stop by for lunch and has a really chilled atmosphere – something you can’t usually say for Central London.
The simplistic menu offers an assortment of Japanese favourites, such as Gyoza, Teriyaki, Tori Kara Age and Sticky Rice. However, the main focus is on the ramen – of which MUGA offer a huge and varied selection of. Whether you prefer something a little more meaty, or more on the miso side – each HUGE bowl can be tailored and tweaked to your preferences – really great value at just £9.90.
With a glass of house white in hand, we perused the menu and picked a couple of dishes to share and taste.
My all-time-favourite is the gyoza, so naturally – I opted for the amazing sounding Age-Gyoza, deep-fried and filled with chicken and vegetables. Dairy and egg free – I was safe to indulge and so indulge I did.
Also on the agenda was a plate of Teriyaki Chicken – pan fried and marinated in generous helpings of sweet sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds to finish. Admittedly, this wasn’t the best Teriyaki I’ve had – as usually they have a much richer, stronger flavour however for a lunchtime snack, it was the perfect amount and the sesame seeds really complimented the overall dish.
The Charshu Slow-Cooked Pork Belly had a much more memorable flavour and according to David, was the best he’d ever tasted. Which must be a good thing!
The main focus however, was on the generous Shoyu Ramen bowl – filled to the brim with noodles, Charshu pork, bamboo shoots, nori, leeks, spring onions and sesame seeds.
Usually I find the dessert menu in Japanese restaurants to be a little underwhelming however MUGA had a variety of options – one of which even I could eat! We chose the Mochi Ice Cream (essentially a soft rice cake stuffed with vanilla bean ice cream) and Dorayaki, warm pancakes filled with soft sweet red bean paste. As odd as it may sound, it was surprisingly delicious and not a scrap was left behind!
Overall, we had a really lovely time at MUGA – with great food and a much needed step away from the craziness that Saturday afternoon in Central London can bring. Feeling refreshed and refuelled, we stepped outside once again – ready to tackle the shops!
Have you ever visited MUGA before? Or is it somewhere you’d like to try?