It was the depth of winter. February 2018. Fu-Schnikens, renowned for their steamed buns, hosted a ramen night as a prerequisite for what was to come. The teaser we all wanted. A new restaurant was on the horizon for Leeds.
Over three years, the name House of Fu was born, with more taster nights, anticipiation continuing to build as the new location, a sneak peek at the interiors and an official opening date were drip fed to us via Instagram. The words, ‘Ramen is coming’ was helping us all get through the pandemic, knowing that this would be on the other side.
This July, mid-heatwave, I made my way to House of Fu for the very first time. We had pre-booked, eagerly scanned the menu and already decided on our entire order. This was the moment we’d been waiting for and we were ready.
Walking in feels like you’ve just entered the womb. It’s so pink. Surrounded by these soothing hues, alongside off-white tiles, sauna-like wood paneling and flashes of terrazzo, you instantly relax before even making it to the table. Safe, cosy, relieved. Ready to sweat it out through bowls of boiling broth.
We start with frozen yuzu margaritas, contorting our faces with every cool, tart sip, as we warm up our muscles for slurping. Our first snack is a plate of Fu-fried chicken with shiso tartare and a sprinkling of shichimi. Little molten morsels of moreish-ness, it’s difficult to stop just popping them in your mouth, continuously. Next to arrive is gyoza of the week – spiced lamb – which are delicately folded up like envelopes, one side charred and blistered.
Then, the main event lands on our table. Original Fu ramen – a creamy pork broth with toasted rye noodles and a gloriously succulent piece of BBQ chashu pork. Topped with spring onion, nori and a gooey egg staring straight back at me. As with all the crockery, handmade by Sunken Studio, buttery smooth, soft edges, cradle the food. This deep ramen bowl is almost hugging the broth and I too want to hold it in my hands and give it a cuddle. It’s such a beautiful vessel to hold this lake of stillness, its marbled surface quivering as I give it a mix, unearthing strings of noodles from beneath the seabed. I dip my spoon in, sinking slowly into this hot bath, coming up for air every now and then, before diving back in with my chopsticks.
We have no room left, even for the temptation of ice cream sandwiches – a choice between white chocolate and matcha or miso caramel. We sit back, our bellies full, soaking up a sunset of pale oranges and pinks from the empty plates and bowls that adorn the table. It was so calm. I didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t ready to be popped back out into the world again.
House of Fu, 15-19 The Headrow, Leeds LS1 6PU