Eat Here: Supa Ya Ramen, PeckhamBy Jake Hawkes
Ah, ramen. Delicious warming broth which is packed with nutrients to fend off the flu – perfect for those cold winter months.
That’s the standard line of thinking, anyway, meaning Supa Ya Ramen in Peckham has an uphill battle when we visit on one of the hottest September evenings since records began. Can the restaurant famous for cheeseburger noodles and Cumberland sausage broths deliver in the summertime? Luckily for us, the answer is a resounding yes.
Sharing plates are a mix between adventurous takes on the classics and bold pairings which somehow always work. First up are hot mix pickles. The sharp vinegar flavour of each is underpinned by unique variations and none are overwhelming enough to dominate. It’s billed as a sharing plate, but is best enjoyed between bites of other dishes as a palette-cleansing crunch.
The shrimp crackers are perfectly fried and avoid the oily pitfalls that lesser crackers fall into all too often. They come with a garlic mayo which was so good we were scraping the remnants out of the bowl with every morsel of cracker we could. It’s a masterclass in taking something which can be an afterthought and elevating it to being worthy of its own dish.
The herbed summer crudites also proved one of the highlights. Banish any thoughts of garden party carrot sticks and supermarket hummus from your minds before you order and just trust us. Your reward if you do is a plate of thick slices of crisp, crunchy radish and juicy cucumber, all ready to be dunked in a whipped miso and peppercorn sauce which manages to rival the joy of the garlic mayo.
At the heftier end of the scale, the glazed pork cheek and shiso leaf ‘tacos’ are a nice homage to Taco Queen, the beloved Mexican spot which Supa Ya took over the premises from. They could probably do with a more explicit warning that instead of tortillas, you’ll be wrapping your pork and pickled daikon in a leaf, but the dish itself can’t be knocked. The pork is melt-in-your-mouth, the apple puree is yet another 10/10 sauce, and the daikon is just tart enough to cut through it all. The leaf is quite tasty too, although we can’t say we would have picked it over an actual taco (maybe that’s just us).
Onto the big question: can a bowl of hot noodles ever work when it feels like the world is on fire? The junk-rib mazesoba gives it a very good try. The kind of food Supa Ya’s reputation was made on, it has the solid bones of a traditional ramen: springy noodles, a masterfully soft-boiled egg, delicious pulled shortrib. It doesn’t rest on tradition though, adding two hash browns to the mix which work surprisingly well with the pickled cucumbers dotted throughout. There’s no broth, which reduces the chances of heat exhaustion, but it all ties together and we can honestly say that we’d happily have another bowl tomorrow, even if there was another unseasonable heatwave at the same time.
Supa Ya could have been dismissed as another London gimmick restaurant when it opened, with its quirky takes on Japanese classics. The skill that goes into their ramen was enough to stop that happening and they’ve built on that foundation with a broad selection of sharing plates which flex those culinary muscles even more. There’s a lot of ramen places in London, but there’s nowhere quite like Supa Ya.
Supa Ya Ramen, 191 Rye Lane, London SE15 4TP
Photo credit: James Moyle