Kanji Kurukawa, Executive Chef at Shoryu Ramen
Kanji is Shoryu’s very own Ramen Boss, turning piggy bits into rich, silky tonkotsu broth. A certified Washoku chef, Kanji was head hunted by Tak and first joined Japan Centre as Head Chef of Toku, the company's contemporary Japanese restaurant, before establishing Shoryu Ramen in 2012. A native of Hakata for 31 years, the birthplace of tonkotsu ramen, Kanji is acutely tuned into what makes the perfect bowl of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen. Honing Shoryu's tonkotsu recipe over several months, Kanji is immensely proud of the authentic flavours Shoryu achieves and makes regular trips back to Hakata to work with his contemporaries, keeping up with the latest techniques and trends.
Name: Kanji Kurukawa 'Ramen Boss'
Current workplace: Shoryu Ramen
Previously worked at: Chikushino (Kaiseki restaurant Hakata) / Ishida Nakasu
What inspired you to become a chef - when was your 'Eureka' moment?
My older brother's friend was a kaiseki chef and saw something in me, luckily I listened to him and looked into it!
What was your very first job?
A fishmonger at 18 years old, not a glamorous job but gave me the basic skills to go onto sushi training. I helped at the daily auction, filleted, cleaned and served customers.
If you could only cook with 3 ingredients for the rest of your life which would they be?
Dashi, the most important base to Japaese cuisine is a must. Then of course I must say tonkotsu broth and noodles!
What's your favourite cuisine and what drink would you have with it?
Tapas. I love the sharing element, the small portions. It's very similar to the Japanese 'izakaya' style of dining, of course you have to have a nice cava with it!
Which chef inspires you the most?
Ishida San, my first kaiseki teacher at Ishisa Nakasu. He taught me all I know.
What would be your last supper and who would cook it?
Fugu sashimi, the poisonous blowfish, prepared by my wife!
If you had not been a chef, what would you have done?
A carpenter or builder like my father
Tell us a secret?
No secrets, apart from my tonkotsu soup recipe which of course I can't tell you!
What's your favourite kitchen utensil?
Japanese sashimi knife (of course)
Who would you love to cook for?
Family is important to me. My father, I've never cooked for my father.
What music / track do you like to listen to whilst cooking?
Eric Clapton, love him
Favourite junk food / guilty pleasure?
Takoyaki! Japanese street food, a type of battered ball filled with octopus, ginger and spring onion covered with katsuobushi, aonori seaweed, mayo and takoyaki sauce.
What irritates you most about the industry?
Not irritates, but the London restaurant scene is very competitive, we need it to keep improving and evolving but it's a tough business!
Tell us about the most difficult customer you have ever dealt with?
There's always someone difficult every week, it's the nature of the business! Just the usual demanding drunks or people wanting to take home their last mouthful of ramen, which I don't recommend after sitting in soup for ages. The noodles get too soggy and its not the way I like to serve my ramen.
Who would be your fantasy kitchen team?
My good friend Endo, executive chef at Zuma. I've known him for over 15 years, it'd be lots of fun.