Santouka opened with a lot of anticipation, and even a few days in to their soft opening, the lines were stretching out the door. To this day, waits are around 30 minutes or more. Despite the cold weather, many still brave the chill to have a taste of this Hokkaido style ramen.
While I usually get the shio as a baseline, I most definitely will opt for an upgrade on the meat. Or add more meat. So I ordered a plate of the toroniku to accompany my char siu. More meat never hurts, right? Certainly not at Santouka, who arguably has the best pork in the city.
According to their menu, their broth is simmered with both pork bone and rib for two days, creating a creamy looking soup. Most definitely, on taste and sight, it was very rich and viscous. The smell that wafted up was so enticing. The bowl was topped with char siu, scallions, wood ear, fish cake, an umeboshi, and bamboo.
The noodles were nice and bouncy, though Kinton’s noodles still remain just slightly ahead in my books. The broth was comparable to Sansotei’s in intensity and aesthetic. Overall, both the noodles and soup were very good. One great thing that I spied on their menu is that you can cook your noodles to preference, as well as meter the amount of lard and salt they add. On my second visit, I requested harder noodles and less salt, which proved just right – drank the entire bowl of broth, which I haven’t done yet in the city due to end-of-bowl salt saturation. Also, make sure you get the aji-tama (egg) addition – perfectly done with a lot of flavour.
Love the bar seats that overlook the kitchen and there is seating for slightly larger groups of 6-8 near the back wall. Though wait times have currently been high, I’m hoping that with the plethora of ramen-yas that have opened, I’ll be able to return more often without having to wait too long. With the minor tweaks on noodle hardness and salt levels, Santouka firmly holds first in my books.