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Bone Daddies owner wants to compete with former employers Zuma and Nobu

By Luke Nicholls , 12-Oct-2012
Last updated the 12-Oct-2012 at 16:31 GMT

Related topics: Business, Venues, People, Restaurants

Ross Shonhan, ex-head chef of Zuma London and Nobu Dallas, is set to open Japanese ramen concept Bone Daddies in Soho next month, and the Australian has revealed that he has a few more ideas in the pipeline as he hopes to compete with his former employers.

Bone Daddies restaurant and bar owner Ross Shonhan wants to compete with former employers Zuma and Nobu

Bone Daddies restaurant and bar owner Ross Shonhan wants to compete with former employers Zuma and Nobu

The 65-cover Bone Daddies restaurant and separate bar area will open in Peter Street on 1 November, offering cheap but authentic ramen noodle dishes in an informal setting, with loud rock’n’roll music and a ‘rough and ready’-style décor.

Embarking on what his first solo venture, Shonhan wants to create a restaurant business that will rival his former establishments; not only by expanding Bone Daddies, but by launching new concepts - a Japanese-inspired pub and a Japanese steakhouse.

“I’m not being arrogant about it, but I am the only chef in the world at this stage who’s been the head chef of both Zuma and Nobu – the two best global Japanese restaurant brands – and I’d like to compete with them quite frankly.

“Wagamama’s already proven that people are comfortable eating soup noodles all around the UK. So, I’d like to see more than one Bone Daddies - but it’s got to be organic growth.

Bone Daddies' logo has been inspired by Shonhan's extensive travel throughout Japan

“I‘ve got a lot of ideas. I do want to do a Japanese-inspired pub and I do want to do a higher end Japanese steakhouse, which would definitely be in competition with the likes of Zuma and Nobu and then has the legs to go international.”

Quality first

Shonhan first came to England 11 years ago with stints at Asia de Cuba and The Dorchester.  When the Australian’s visa expired, he moved to America and opened a couple of restaurants including Nobu in Dallas. He was later headhunted to come back to England, taking charge of Zuma - which placed 14th in this year’s National Restaurant Awards.

Speaking of the current Japanese dining scene in the UK, he added: “In London, they are either very expensive, very serious, or not good quality. I’ve had an obsession with ramen for years. So with Bone Daddies, It’s going to be quality first - after years of working in quality-driven restaurants, I can’t serve rubbish. But quality doesn’t mean it will be expensive.”

Bone Daddies’ menu will change regularly, marked up on the mirrors in the restaurant. It will feature 10 flavours of ramen – the Japanese noodle dish often flavoured with soy sauce or miso – priced between £9 and £12.

Shonhan’s extensive travel throughout Japan have inspired both the logo (pictured) and the soundtrack for Bone Daddies – which will feature rock‘n’roll music that is at least 20 years old.

High stools and benches will furnish the restaurant and bottles of seasonally infused Shochu will be displayed on the walls, creating a casual venue. The venue will not take reservations and has a late night licence.

Steakhouse vision

But it’s the steakhouse concept which Shonhan says could have the potential to become the best in an increasingly popular Japanese ramen restaurant market.

“The vision I have for the steakhouse concept is something that I can see happening sooner rather than later in London. It’s so site-specific, it’s a case of going for it when I find the right site.

“Hopefully, this first place is a success and once I’ve proven that I can find a site, develop a concept and operate it successfully, I’m sure other new sites will become available to me.

“Bone Daddies is ultimately a simple formula and it shouldn’t take 12 months to bed in and my eyes are always open. If I saw a site tomorrow in Mayfair, the reality is that it would be six to nine months before it would be open. My backers aren’t interested in one little restaurant, that’s for sure.” 

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