re: Ramen Lover
With a name like Ramen Lover, you just cannot NOT ask where one can get a yummy ramen.
I've been reading lots of postings about ramen, how Toronto is not a place for ramen. Yes, I know this is not Japan, but given the choices and alternatives, which ones are among the best? Kenzo, I've been, and I quite liked it there. And thats all the ramen I've had in Toronto. Where else should I try? Criteria--below $8 a bowl, mostly in and around downtown.
I did not enjoy my ramen at Kenzo, I did like their fresh gyoza however.
Have you tried Ajisen? Ajisen Ramen has recently opened a branch in Steeles & Warden by Chinese owners. (Ajisen orginially started in Japan).
I love it - althought it's not best ramen I've had, but it's one of the better ones in T.O.
Kenzo is Korean owned, hence the tendency for spicy broths. It is the best in Toronto, albeit that is not something to brag about. Ramen is admittedly quite weak here. My fav at Kenzo's is the Tonkotsu (not on menu but pasted on walls). Their gyozas are excellent though, highly recommended.
Ajisen is a Japanese chain w/ locations all over America. Most of these franchises are Chinese owned. Trust me when I say this, stay away from Chinese owned ramen chains. Not a good look at all......
I am not insulting your taste, but Ajisen is not authentic at all.
Speaking about inauthentic, Kenzo certainly does not get a good rating in my book. After hankering for ramen yesterday I browsed through the chowhound posts and decided to try Double Happiness - until to my dismay I read the post that said they closed up shop! So my sister and I decided to try Kenzo and made the drive up to the new Little Korea area (!) The server was quite friendly and I enjoyed the look and feel of the restaurant and menu.
I decided to order the satporomisoramen ($8.95) despite the spelling error (which should probably have been my first clue). My sister decided to try the shoyu-ramen after being told she couldn't have the miso-ramen as part of the combo even though the menu implied that she could. Didn't complain tho, and we also ordered tako-yaki, and was pleased that the dish was on offer.
Our bowls arrived, and for one thing I was annoyed to see that they had sprinkled pieces of ground pork on what was supposed to be an all vegetable dish (which is why I chose it). I know the broth is probably somewhat meat based but it would have been nice if they had indicated that there would be meat in the dish. Didn't complain tho, I just picked the pieces out.
My sister was not pleased with her ramen at all. It had a metallic aftertaste and she had to put tons of karashi on it to cover up the taste. Plus the noodles were anything but authentic. Instant noodles would have been way better. My miso broth was okay, but nothing to write home about. Or maybe I should write home because my mom's ramen tops these by miles!
The worst part of our meal tho had to be the tako-yaki. They arrived 6 times bigger than they should have been meaning that they were not fully cooked and really mushy on the inside. In a word: inedible. Certainly not worth $7.95! My sister's gyoza was steamed thank goodness but she said the wrap had an unpleasant gooey texture, unlike the amazing gyoza my mom makes at least once a month.
All in all, a very disappointing experience. I will never go there again. Makes me want to ask my mom to open up a restaurant so Toronto could finally have a great place for ramen.
I guess all that's left to try is Ajisen, right?
I did a quick write up awhile ago when Ajisen first opened. Here it is reposted:
Ajisen ramen - same franchise @ warden + steeles (TNT plaza)
I Went there last night. I have pictures, but will add later.
-impeccable and friendly service (probably cuz of grand opening)
-only complaint: Maybe a lil too friendly, one waitress likes to talk really close to your face [within inches of touching your nose]
-decent tea upon sitting
-noodles came 5 minutes before my cutlet arrived
I had curry cutlet ramen (7.99)
- textbook pork cutlet, lots of good curry flavour mixed into soy pork broth
- couple of unpleasant unmixed curry paste gobs in the broth
Partner had tenderous ribs ramen (7.99)
- soy pork broth rich and flavourful,
- ribs a bit stringy, but also very flavourful and “fall-apart” from long braising
-Reminiscent of spaghettini
- it’s extruded, not cut/pulled
-Wasn’t my personal preference
Extras: (found on the table)
- minced dried garlic (so bad for a date!)
- chili flakes
- soy sauce