When I began profiling all the ramen places, I had a mental list of places that I was going to include. In the process of churning over the nuances of noodles, I realized that I wanted to stick to the places that focused on ramen as their core. Turns out that there were only four places that fit my criteria and over the last week, I’ve put down my thoughts on them. But which one is the best?
I mentioned this last week – less than a year ago, Toronto was hard-pressed for ramen-ya selection. Now? Now we have four dedicated shops and a whole host of other restaurants that offer their own versions as a staple. It’s a good time to be a ramen lover.
Of course, I have my favourite. You would think it’s where I would eat most often. But it’s not. Because the great thing about the number of newfound choices in town is that they’re all good choices. So it becomes a matter of nuance. Not only about taste, but convenience, price, and the maybe shifting of the winds too. It really can be that arbitrary. Since three of the four are within a 5-10 minute walk of each other, it helps even the playing field a bit. Well, except for that fourth (sorry Kinton!).
My top pick on taste is Santouka. With the ability to customize both noodle hardness and salt options, it has the best broth and noodle combo. I’d eat there more often if I didn’t have to wait 30 minutes or more for a seat. Maybe later.
Raijin is where I eat at most often. I’ve waffled back and forth on if I like Raijin more or less than Santouka – it’s pretty close. But Raijin never has a line. With its comfortable – and ample – seating, I can be done dinner while others are still waiting to sit down. And in the cold or in the heat, this is a no-brainer for me. I also enjoy the variety of Raijin’s soups and noodles (varying widths).
Running up is Sansotei. The first time I’d had their soup, I had one of those a-ha moments in eating. Subsequent meals there have been good, but do not match up to that first hit of broth. I also didn’t love their noodle as much as the other houses. At one point, they tweeted that they were going to offer different noodle thicknesses. I haven’t been back in a little bit, so I’m not sure if that’s happened yet. I look forward to trying that out.
Running up the back of the pack is Kinton. They’re not in any way a slouch at the ramen game, but they’re in a location that just isn’t convenient to me. Not by much, but by enough. Still worth trying out to see if they hit your particular ramen funny bone just right.
Certainly, any of these places are good for a bowl. But what if you’re just not close to any of these guys? Well, you should make the time to go, really. However, for convenience’s sake, here are a few more restaurants that regularly serve ramen in addition to their other fare.
Momofuku has my least favourite noodle. For whatever reason, the cornerstones Dave Chang built his empire on – ramen and pork belly buns – don’t work for me at all. Still, many seem to enjoy his noodles.
Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya has only just opened. I stopped by and found that the ramen is decent here – flat pale noodle with nearly translucent edges. The shio broth is most traditional of all the ones I’ve seen with a very clear and clean taste. I opted not to include them, as the feel was more Izakaya than ramen joint. Maybe a post on these guys later when I’ve had more time to explore more of their menu.
A-Ok, opened by the kids of Yours Truly, also offers a less-traditional noodle. One of the few (only?) places that makes their noodle in house – you can check out their production on the West wall of the restaurant.
Of course, there are many more bowls in the city – up north in J-Town, older chains that pepper the city, and other restaurants that serve it along side their regular menus. But these are the newest and brightest ones. Can’t be more pleased with the whole ramen madness as a whole given the choice and quality that has flooded the city.
- A-Ok Foods 930 Queen Street West, Toronto
- Sansotei Ramen 179 Dundas Street West, Toronto
- Ramen Raijin 3 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
- Santouka Ramen 91 Dundas Street East, Toronto
- Kinton Ramen 51 Baldwin Street, Toronto
- Momofuku Noodle Bar 190 University Avenue, Toronto
- Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya 690 College Street West, Toronto
Advance apologies for the map. It’s ghetto, but I don’t have time to fix my current plugin. Fah.