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Eye Weekly on Ramen in Toronto

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the writer seems to have tried 5 places. 2 of them were worthy of ratings.

iNoodle **
KONICHIWA ****
Ematai
Izakaya
R-Shop

the addendum added 2 more, as pointed out to the writer by 'japanese torontonians':
Tokyo Kitchen
Kenzo

http://www.eyeweekly.com/food/review/...

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  1. Seems oddly out of date for an article in a weekly paper - I thought Izakaya and R-Shop closed months ago?

    People seem to be giving good reviews to iNoodle on Chowhound, can we get consensus? How is it compared with Konichiwa? I've tried Konichiwa and it was pretty good, but not fantastic...

    -----
    iNoodle
    623 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K8, CA

    Kon-Nichi-Wa Japanese Restaurant
    31 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T1L1, CA

    8 Replies
    1. re: artificialard

      Konichiwa is pretty good, usually my go-to place during the winter.

      I usually walk out into the cold in a pile of sweat after inhaling the noodles and slurping up the broth.

      I wonder if they make the noodles themselves? THey don't seem to advertise this.

      There's a tiny place at Yonge and Steeles just south of Centrepoint Mall on the west side, forgot the name of the place. They hand make their noodles, I think on par or better than Konichiwa. Nice squid balls available too.

      1. re: doctorandchef

        That is Kenzo, the article said it is passable, but I think it is pretty good !

        1. re: skylineR33

          I have to agree, Kenzo makes a superior ramen...the best in town with a great vaiety to choose from.
          Finally tried iNoodle last weekend...pretty good, about the same as Konnichiwa.

        2. re: doctorandchef

          It's called Kenzo

        3. re: artificialard

          Never had Konnichiwa ramen, but was underwhelmed by the food at iNoodle. I still miss Double Happiness (rip)

          1. re: artificialard

            I agree with the forming consensus here about the lack of truly great Ramen in TO, and that iNoodle and Konnichiwa are roughly on par (I actually prefer Konnichiwa's ramen by more than a slim margin). I haven't tried Kenzo.

            But, I'd thought I'd throw out here that despite all the appearances of being a pseudo ramen ya, some of Konnichiwa's best stuff isn't actually their ramen! Their gyoza is great with a very thin skin and a decidely nice home-made filling. Their unagi-nigiri is my favourite outside of Kaji -- consistently served warm and so tender it dissolves and dissipates on the tongue. Their onigiri-okaka (and other onigiri) is also good and just about the only place that I have found in the city that even serves onigiri.

            Anyways, when your in the mood for Japanese but not really ramen (or sushi), give Konnichiwa's wider menu a try.

            1. re: Atahualpa

              This is a slight digression from this thread, but Manpuku (at Village by the Grange) serves onigiri and yaki-onigiri, which is pretty ok and the size of the onigiri is fairly generous as well.

              1. re: lsk

                Thanks for the tip. I haven't been in that food court for ages.

          2. The Ramen shops in Toronto are laughable. There's not one that I would call even average ramen. I truly wish someone would start a proper Ramen-Ya here. I think the city is ready for it. We have smoked meat, now all we need is a great Ramen spot and a great Izakaya and we're set.

            As a sidenote, probably more than ten years ago there was a good Ramen Ya that closed down called Yokohama. It was located on Adelaide between John St. and Peter St.
            does anyone know what happened to them?

            46 Replies
            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

              Yokohama closed for lack of customers. iNoodle changed their noodle a while back to a cheaper Chinese noodle rather than Japanese ramen noodle, that was 2 or 3 months ago and I haven't been back since. I mentioned it to the owner at the time. Konnichiwa ramen's pork used to be tough but it's tender now. Tokyo Kitchen's Ramen is frozen pack, I'm quite sure, Tokyo Grill and Konnichiwa ramen soup is proper chicken stock. Kenzo has changed owner. I haven't had it for many years but Toshi Sushi's ramen was good.
              There just aren't enough Ramen lovers in T.O. to support it.
              Same with Izakaya, unfortunate. P.S. the Izakaya craze in Vancouver is a fad. Nice looking girls, fusion looking food, business atmosphere , over priced etc. although I think it was called Zakkushi , that was a real izakaya. IMO

              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                When did the owner change happen in Kenzo and have you guys been to Kenzo recently ? I found it ok, and just like sushi, I am not trying to compare with what I can get in Japan. The last time I tried it was around one month ago, I found it not bad and I found it better than like a year or so before.

                Not sure if the city is ready for it or not but it is not surprising at all that there is not a great ramen place in Toronto given the small population of Japanese in Toronto. With the big population of Chinese in Toronto, I cannot found a authentic and great wonton noodle in here !

                1. re: skylineR33

                  Jimmy Chai Kee??

                  1. re: acd123

                    Jim Chai Kee's wonton is way too big and not consider authentic. The soup base and wonton noodle texture is also missing as already being mentioned a while ago in discussion on another thread.

                  2. re: skylineR33

                    I remember my father saying something to that effect regarding Yokohama. I was so young back then but that place really sparked my fanaticism for Ramen.

                    I think Toronto has grown a lot recently as far as gastronomy goes and I do think that there are enough Ramen lovers to support one decent sized shop. It would of course have to be very good and most importantly it would have to be in a great location. An Izakaya on the other hand would have a harder time. I think the small dish aspect of Izakaya would fare well depending on the quality of the dishes (and except for chicken hearts. I do not see many people going crazy over chicken hearts) but the lack of good Sake/Shochu and people who drink it would hinder it unfortunately. As far as Vancouver goes I tend to think that Izakaya is more of an institution there than a fad but that's just my opinion.

                    SkylineR33 - I have not been to Kenzo recently. I was turned off the first time I went and just never returned however if they've gotten better I would certainly entertain a revisit. I don't need anything of a japanese caliber (although it would be nice, yet totally impossible) but I would like something of maybe a New York/California/Vancouver caliber. On another note, it's a shame about the Wonton Mein. I could go for some right now.

                    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                      I have been enjoying Izakaya in Vancouver for 4 years now. It is still going strong and way past being a fad! It is not based on eating chicken hearts (although i like them).

                      I believe Toronto can support a proper Izakaya. If we can eat small dishes in every other category regardless of quality or authenticity, I am cerain Toronto would pack in an Izakaya. Not like the crappy place we had on Front St but a true pub-like Izakaya with great food.

                      1. re: deelicious

                        I think you misunderstood my comments I said " Izakaya is more of an institution there than a fad..."

                        I know obviously that it's not about eating chicken hearts. That was a tongue in cheek comment based on the notion that the average person may find that a bit too exotic.

                        However, I do think an Izakaya here would need Sake and Shochu that we can't get in Ontario. I'm not saying it wouldn't work, in fact I said the small dish aspect would be attractive to people but for it to be truly done right they would need an alchohol selection that we just aren't able to source.

                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                          This is true. It's also important to note that when people try to open an "izakaya" now (for example, in SoCal or something), it's more about producing the next trendy spot than it is about producing something that attempts to be authentic.

                          So not only do you need the food and drink base, but you also need an owner who cares less about making a quick buck by opening the next trendy place, and instead cares about the atmosphere, food, etc. Though I guess the whole no smoking thing might remove most of the atmosphere anyways...

                          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                            Sorry I was just backing up your point, P.I.G.

                            1. re: deelicious

                              No need to apologize dee, it was a simple misunderstanding on my part.

                          2. re: deelicious

                            ah yes. There's nothing like fried stuff + beer, in any culture. :)
                            I'm a fan of the fried cartilage bits.

                            1. re: deelicious

                              Well, we do have an Izakaya--Ematei. I always enjoy it. Not as communal as some in Japan, I know, but the fare is pretty much Izakaya stuff with some more sushi/ sashimi options.

                              1. re: woodsey

                                Ematei isn't an izakaya, it's a restaurant that has some izakaya-style options.

                                1. re: tjr

                                  Ematei is the only half-decent Japanese restaurant in Toronto IMHO (I would love other CH posters to prove me wrong by recommending other places - but be warned that I lived in Japan for a few years, just moved here from Vancouver and travel regularly to Japan on business). . .it defies traditional logic about specializing on one type of cooking and offers a broad range of stuff that in general is quite decent. They've got to update that whole Benihana interior. . .though it is kinda 70's Jap-socky kitsch.

                                  I pine for Kintaro ramen in Vancouver - don't think such a place would survive here in Toronto for lack of audience. I find Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese food in general in Toronto to be a disappointment vs Vancouver.

                                  1. re: jambonhandy

                                    I spent most of my life in Japan and return on a regular basis: Kaji serves pretty decent sushi (infinitely better than Ematei), though it can't compete with Japan, obviously. Hashimoto serves a good take on kaiseki-ryouri, and brings his ingredients in from Japan. I like Ematei for izakaya-ish fare, but their sushi isn't even close to good, even for Toronto, and Hashimoto and Kaji are much better Japanese restaurants (since you wanted to be proven wrong). There is no good ramen in Toronto, unfortunately. What it lacks in Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese (I'm not sure about this one, since I don't really eat much Vietnamese), it makes up for in Chinese and Western cuisine. You can probably add Indian to a list of cuisines that Vancouver does better as well.

                                    To prove you wrong: Kaji and Hashimoto are much better than Ematei (though they don't do izakaya fare), and are likely the best Japanese restaurants in the GTA (I've never had better here, at least).

                                    1. re: jambonhandy

                                      I would disagree w/ the Korean and Vietnamese suggestion, I think we have a wide variety of options in those departments. Have you seen the rapid Koreanization (yes I'm making words up) of Yonge st in North York/Thornhill within the last decade?

                                      A ramen spot like Kintaro would certainly do well here. Konnichiwa has been around for ages, and Kenzo's been around for 4 odd years. If those two can survive serving decent to poor ramen, then there is definitely room for a quality ramen-ya.

                                      Our top end Japanese restaurants measures well against Vancouver, the problem being a huge drop in quality after you count the usual suspects (hashimoto, kaji, zen, solo, etc....).

                                      1. re: jambonhandy

                                        Ha! If only we had something like Kintaro here...

                                        I would like to know how Kaji and Hashimoto compare to Tojo personally as I have never gotten the chance to try Tojo out.

                                        Zen sushi is sort of like Aji Sai with the fish being a tad less fresh and it being almost double in price. That said they are still the best in the city for Edomae style sushi IMO.

                                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                          I haven't been to Tojo either, but from all reports I've heard/seen, he incorporates more fusion elements than Kaji and obviously Hashimoto. I've heard a lot of Vancouverites say there are better choices than Tojo, but Tojo gets all the press.

                                          Next on my ramen agenda is a bowl at Solo up in Newmarket. If I can tear myself away from his omakase......

                                          1. re: aser

                                            Also haven't been to Tojo, but I've heard about the same. Let us know how the ramen is at Solo! Does he make it on special order, or is it regularly available?

                                            1. re: tjr

                                              Yeah I've heard that as well about the fusion. I've also heard that you can go do a more expensive Omakase as well sort of in the vein of the Morimoto Omakase where they ask you how much you want to pay and then they construct a course accordingly.

                                              I'm thinking as far as restaurants doing Ramen on special order they may have a sort of all purpose Dashi boiling which they add things to like say Miso, or Shoyu which is a no no but could be their alternative to a frozen broth.

                                              I will go to Newmarket for Ramen so please do report back. As a sidenote, I just got back from Japan and didn't get the chance to get a good bowl this time around. Bummer. Running around visiting family.

                                              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                I'll be there in a couple weeks, and looking forward to spending an inordinate amount of money and eating until I explode.

                                                I heard that Hashimoto will do specific things (as long as it qualifies as being within the realm of his culinary imagination) if you request a good while in advance. While I doubt he'll do something like ramen, you can always request specific items you'd traditionally expect in more upscale Japanese cuisine, and he might order in the ingredients and make it (though I haven't done this, and have only heard it on a rumour basis. For those who wish a certain item with little or no access to Japan, it might be a good thing to try though).

                                                1. re: tjr

                                                  Nice! I did the same for the most part but for some reason ended up eating mostly sushi and Kaiseki Ryouri. Great season for sushi though Tuna is from Spain at the moment which is my favorite. So sweet.

                                                  The only Ramen place I ended up eating at was Mist at Omotesando Hills which is actually a fairly solid bowl, got the Umeboshi Shio there. It's not Menya Kissou but what can you do. Any Ramen plans for you this trip?

                                                  I haven't had Hashimoto's cooking since I was a kid when he was at Nami. I need to correct that soon. I only hear great things about his place.

                                2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                  the tonkotsu is actually decent at kenzo, sure it's nowhere near the epiphany levels of ippudo or santouka, but it's the only edible ramen in the city (IMO). Their spicy flaovurs are too overpowering and their basic shoyu/shio/miso are anemic. Stick w/ the tonkotsu, with the hanjuku tamago.

                                  izakaya, that would be the day. Imagine if we had something like yakitori totto here? For now the closest we got is ematei's small dish menu.

                                  not to sidetrack, but I find big joy's stock to be more accurate than jim chai kee's for wonton mein.

                                  1. re: aser

                                    Hi aser, you can choose your level of spiciness and even have it non-spicy. I actually prefer the King of Ramen, and they need to put more flavour and oil into their tonkotsu ! Do you have hanjuku tamago in Kenzo ? I don't recall I ever have the egg done that way before at Kenzo ... it is always fully boiled.

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      re: hanjuku tamago

                                      The one time I tried Kenzo up at Peachtree, they did all our eggs that way. And man do I wish for more decent ramen places... especially up north.

                                      1. re: tksh

                                        The last 2 times I was there last month they are done all boiled. When did you tried it ? I forget how it was done previously.

                                        1. re: skylineR33

                                          Very long time ago to be honest -- I'm not even sure if it was this year. I found their servings way too small.

                                          1. re: skylineR33

                                            It used to be hard boiled a few years ago, but they've switched over to hanjuku. I was just there on Friday and was served a soft boiled egg with my tonkotsu ramen. Ever since the Markham location opened, I have been going to that one since. I haven't been to the Yonge st location in more than a year so I can't comment on them.

                                            I prefer to order items as the chef intends them to be served. I love spicy food, just not with ramen. Hence why I don't want to make the dish "non-spicy". I've had the orochong, the netsu, and karashi in the past and I found them to be too one dimensional.

                                            The portions for the non spicy ramens are indeed small, I usually combo it w/ 4 piece gyoza, which fills me up and tastes homemade. For a short time, they offered kaedama, but they no longer do that. No customization available like Shinsengumi of LA.

                                            Jyo up at solo sushi ya says he serves a mean ramen. I have yet to try as I haven't been able to resist the allure of his omakase each time I visit.

                                            1. re: aser

                                              Maybe I should try their Markham location one day, I always go to the Yonge one. In the Yonge location, they used to ask me how spicy I want it to be, but I notice they did not ask that question recently, well I still ask them to put less hot spice on it.

                                              1. re: aser

                                                I don't mind spicy ramen (say, miso with tobanjan, ), assuming that this is what the ramen is meant to be. There is great spicy ramen to be found in Japan (or even Korean ramyon), but since Toronto can hardly do a decent ramen of one of the four basic varieties, I think that spicy ramen in Toronto is probably more a means of masking poor (in either quality or technique) ramen, or to make a bland ramen passable.

                                                I've been to Kenzo (Markham) quite a few times, and agree that the tonkotsu is pretty much the only ramen in the city worth eating. I wonder if there's anywhere that does (or, if there are, does a decent) 坦々麺? It seems like something a Toronto ramen joint could pull off a bit better.

                                                It's a bit of a shame when らーめん缶 machines put out better product than the ramen-ya in Toronto.

                                          2. re: skylineR33

                                            SkylineR33, do you think they would make the broth more fatty upon request? I assume they would just add more jewels of pork fat but I haven't been in forever so I can't say.

                                            Also, will they do the noodles firm if you request it?

                                            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                              I don't think they will do anything upon request, but it is just what I think, I have never request that ... and the service there is ok, but not particularly friendly...

                                              1. re: skylineR33

                                                Tried Kenzo tonight after not having been there for a long time and found it to be pretty much the same. Tried the "King of the Kings Ra-men" and the "Sho-yu Ra-Men" (as they didn't have Tonkotsu Ramen at the Yonge Location) and found it like every single Ramen shop in Toronto which is basically subpar, it wasn't inedible by any means but it wasn't anything I would go back for, my broth was burnt (not ashy or smoky in flavor but burnt) and my egg was cold. Although, I don't know if I could classify it alongside Japanese Ramen as I think it's more of a Korean style Ramyun there. I may go again if it where across the street from my house and half the price.

                                                Thanks for the recommend nonetheless though, it was a fun experience with friends and ultimately my belly was full so I really can't complain.

                                                I have been thinking of starting a Ramen-Ya myself with a couple people or in the very least investing in someone willing to start a proper one up him/herself. Just a small cramped place with a bar, some foggy windows,an open kitchen, and some killer Ramen. I'm getting desperate at this point as I'm sure most of you guys are. Great noodles in general are such a comfort food.

                                                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                  Wow, that will be great. Please let me know if you are going to open up something with the quality of Ippudo in NYC, really like the ramen there but please do it with a more reasonable price unlike the $13US they are charging for a bowl of Tonkotsu ramen !

                                                  Since Kenzo is already the best compared to Konnichawa, Ajisen, Ematei, Miyabi, inoodle IMO, I guess I have to go there once a while to fix my craving for ramen...

                                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                                    Haha! I don't know if I can make broth quite like Ippudo. Shigemi Kawahara is the Ramen King afterall and that Akamaru is pretty hard to beat. They actually offered a miso shio ramen for a short time there that I found even better than the much praised Akamaru but I went back the next week and it was gone. (I actually don't like the noodles there too much though)

                                                    I love many different Ramen-Ya for altogether different reasons. I like Minca(NYC) for the peanut butter miso. I like Menkui Tei (NYC) for the assortment, I like Asahi (LA) for their choice of customization (although they've gone a bit downhill as of late), and I even like Momofuku (NYC) because it reminds me the most of the instant ramen of my youth. (with a 65 degree style egg no less) and that's not even touching on the places in Japan which I must say I love for their regional styles and intricacies among other things.

                                                    I agree with you on the 13$ price point though skyline, that's too much for Ramen anywhere. The same bowl at Ippudo in Ebisu would cost you $7.50 Canadian.

                                                    As far as the Toronto Ramen shops go I would have to admit to settling for them to fix my cravings as well. I think the next place I am going to try is Kenzo in Markham for the Tonkotsu, as I have not been to that branch yet.

                                                    -Notorious P.I.G.

                                                  2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                    so you know, the tonkotsu ramen is not listed in their tri-fold menu. It is only posted on the wall as a special, but it's always there.

                                                    1. re: aser

                                                      Ah, thanks for the heads up.

                                            2. re: aser

                                              Aser, if we had something like Yakitori Totto here I would probably see you at the bar every night. My personal favorite is Sakagura (although you can't really compare it to YT) although it's a little more expensive than your average izakaya but you can't beat their drink selection. Except that they don't carry Tan Taka Tan which I was totally surprised by. That has got to be my favorite Shochu.

                                              I agree that the closest thing is Ematei's selection. I compare them to Yoko Cho in the east village. I have to admit though, Ematei has a special place in my heart.

                                              -Notorious P.I.G.

                                              1. re: ojizzle

                                                Sorry guys, the last two posts under the user "ojizzle" where me. I was using my girlfriends computer and totally forgot that it was signed into her account.

                                                Sorry for the confusion. I am an idiot.

                                                1. re: ojizzle

                                                  Has anyone tried Daikoku in Markham, at the corner Woodbine and Apple Creek (just north of Hwy 7)? They have three, if not four or more pages of ramen varieties, and also lots of izakaya options, sushi, so forth.

                                                  I've had their Tokyo Ramen a few times ($8.95 I think), large-ish portion and quite good, but I'd love the opinion of someone who's been around the ramen scene.

                                                  Sadly, everyone I know who has tried the place has complained that it's "not a good deal", but this tells me that they're going in with different expectations than the restaurant is aiming to fulfill.

                                                  1. re: Wench Foraday

                                                    Not sure if they have improved the quality recently. I had tried its ramen a while ago and did not like it at all. The portion was small, and definitely not close to what a real Japanese ramen should taste like (I have had ramen in both Tokyo and Osaka before). Having close to $9 for a small bowl of mediocre noodles is definitely not a good deal in my opinion. Kenzo is a better choice.

                                                    Daikoku reminds me of that ramen place at the Commerce Gate on Hwy 7 many years ago.

                                                    1. re: Wench Foraday

                                                      Daikoku is not bad as a non-AYCE chinese-owned Japanese restaurant. Just don't try to compare them to any places in the level of Cafe Michi or Miyabi.

                                                      It was the same group who owned 橫剛 (Wan Kong?) at Commerce Gate or Midland and McNicoll long time ago. But their ramen is not as good as the time of 橫剛. Pricing is not expensive but even that, with the quality of food they offer, I will not recommend anyone who want to have some nice Japanese food to go there. Their cooked food is not really bad in Toronto standard but definitely not sushi or any kind of raw food. Their ramen is way below Kenzo.

                                                      1. re: skylineR33

                                                        Very interesting. Thanks for the replies. Guess Kenzo is the place to beat. And you're right about the connection to the old Commerce Gate restaurant...for some people, that's all they need to know in order not to go :P

                                                      2. re: Wench Foraday

                                                        I had the Osaka Ramen and found it disappointing. Actually, I found most of the food disappointing -- didn't match up at all with the pricing, but then again, I had higher expectations than I should have. It was a decent meal, but I'd much rather spend my money at other Japanese places.

                                              2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                Surprised to hear that Yokohama was good...
                                                Although I myself never went, my brother and his friends, all of them Japanese, ate at Yokohama once and said never again... (that's why I never bothered going). Also when they closed some of my friends who'd been there said "no wonder... it was plain awful", so I always thought Yokohama was a not-so-good ramen place.

                                                1. re: lilith

                                                  Yeah, I can't account for your brothers friend's tastes, or your own friend's tastes. So I don't really know what to tell you. I always thought it was amazing but again, I was probably about 8 years old. That said, I do remember what it tasted like and it was a hell of a lot better than the swill they're calling Ramen around the city now. Also, when they closed some of my family who'd been there said "No wonder...they where in such a bad location."

                                              3. i have yet to be impressed by ramens in Toronto. Went to Kenzo with bf a few months ago based on the recommendations here. Its not bad but its also not something i'd want to go back to again and again.

                                                1. Is the Kenzo at Peachtree no longer??
                                                  I've only ever been to the Yonge location for Kenzo, but yesterday I was in the Peachtree location and wanted to try out the Kenzo there. It was a Korean restaurant called Dowon and had a big sign saying "Grand Opening under New Management". Is it the same food, different name?

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: sumashi

                                                    Yeah, from my understanding they've closed up shop, I went and had a final bowl during their last week of operation. The original location at Yonge & Steeles seems to be around still because I've driven and have seen the "OPEN" sign lit up.

                                                    Then again....according to their website, it might not be.

                                                    http://kenzoramen.ca

                                                    1. re: aser

                                                      Ouch. I did like having the Yonge Kenzo as an option. And although downtown sounds nice, I fear them cutting corners to get the volume in through the doors at a downtown location.

                                                      1. re: aser

                                                        Oh noooo!
                                                        This is horrible news.. I know people who are gonna be really upset =(
                                                        And I fear the same as Pincus mentions about quality vs. volume. I quite like the small place they have right now in an unassuming strip plaza.

                                                        1. re: sumashi

                                                          I drove by the Yonge st location again yesterday and the "Open" sign was lit up. Now the question is, has the new management changed the taste?

                                                          I"ll report back once I visit.

                                                          1. re: aser

                                                            Any update on kenzo ramen on yonge? I really like that place.

                                                            1. re: szw

                                                              I went back last week to the Yonge st location now that the Markham one is kaputz. Initial reaction, the tonkotsu broth tasted almost the same as before, except it was a tad weaker than what I've been getting at the Markham location. Same noodles as before but they were cooked an extra 30 seconds too long imo. This could've been just a slightly off day for the broth. Hanjuku just like the Markham location btw....

                                                              My friend got the orochong at spice level 2, it was the hottest he has ever had, and he has ordered this many a times. Just a warning for folks adverse to the heat.

                                                              I have a catalogue of pics of Kenzo, I really need to get them up on my flickr.

                                                    2. Is there a recent opinion on the ramen at Tokyo Kitchen?
                                                      I find it hard to believe that one chowhounder thinks it's frozen pack ramen. I thought it was quite tasty there and the noodles actually taste like they've never seen a freezer as near as i can tell. I've had a really satisfying ramen at Sushiman and a decent one at Konichiwa in the past year or so as well.

                                                      Am I just used to such a low standard for ramen that even ones that rise above Sapporo Ichiban are like gourmet items? Like decent Udon that doesn't need to do much to rise above the bleh quality of your average sushi joint?

                                                      1. I wanted to get some ramen at iNoodle yesterday only to find a FOR LEASE sign in the window. I'll have to try these other places.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: otnorot

                                                          There aren't enough ramen lovers to support ramen place. iNoodle changed their noodles just to cut costs. To CA416> Tokyo Kitchen ramen is frozen instant ramen IMO. I don't think they even make the stock to blend with soup base.

                                                          1. re: katana750

                                                            if it's instant can you guide me to a brand of instant noodle that tastes that good?
                                                            i'd love to have a stockpile of frozen ramen that tastes 10x better than sapporo ichiban!

                                                            1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                                                              CoffeeAddict416, you can get some decent "fresh" instant ramen at both T&T and PAT. It depends on your personal taste as to which product to buy, though.

                                                              1. re: tjr

                                                                um.. i'm a newbie to these places so ... in case others are too:

                                                                a link to P.A.T. (Bloor and Clinton)
                                                                http://www.blogto.com/grocery/patcentral

                                                                but the T&T site is in chinese so here is the English link
                                                                http://www.tnt-supermarket.com/en/ind...?
                                                                ( 222 Cherry Street,)

                                                              2. re: CoffeeAddict416

                                                                i like Nissin frozen ramen myself. Make it with stock rather than water for richer flaver.

                                                          2. Just a note that iNoodle has closed.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Ender

                                                              I saw that yesterday. Shame. I just started going there and really enjoyed it.

                                                            2. I have been to Konnichiwa, iNoodle, and Ajisen, and I would rate them in that order from the best to the worst. I was underwhelmed by iNoodle, but I routinely went anyway because it was close to my house.

                                                              And I felt sorry for the owners every time I was in there - it was always empty, and last time I was the only person and it was prime meal time. The service was always good.

                                                              And I'm sure Ematei can (almost) do no wrong, but I haven't tried their ramen.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: pomelo

                                                                I go to Ematei regularly. Tried their ramen once, I couldn't tell what flavour it was suppose to be, shoyu or miso?? Haven't had it since. I go to Konnichiwa for ramen. I also felt sorry for iNoodle, always empty. I'm not a fan of tonkotsu, Ajisen only has tonkotsu so I won't go unless my friends want to go there. Tokyo Grill is pretty good still, not the miso thought, NO MEAT stock (made the mistake of making it a vegetarian item 10 years ago, and never fixed it.) Even thought it is not as good as it was when the original owner ran the place. How is Kenzo under new management?

                                                                1. re: katana750

                                                                  Tokyo Grill's is fine, though it is from frozen, and more in the style of Cantonese egg noodles. I think the newer owner was just satisfied with leaving the menu as it was.

                                                                  1. re: Chester Eleganté

                                                                    The pork broth at iNoodle was delicious.

                                                                    1. re: acd123

                                                                      I think iNoodle was closed :(

                                                                      I really like their tonkotsu.

                                                              2. Not a lot of people know this, but they'll make you ramen at the excellent Toshi Sushi at dinnertime if you ask nicely....and, especially, of you speak Japanese.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: metalmicky

                                                                  If it's not a normal menu item how does this work? Is it packaged or something? Is it any good?

                                                                  1. re: metalmicky

                                                                    That sounds not possible. A good soup base takes a long time to cook in a big big pot with lots of ingradients in order to have the "taste". If the ramen is served only once a while (as it is not in the menu) and can be done instantly when request, this sounds like instant noodle or package soupbase to me, definitely not a good sign, the noodle is probably not fresh too.

                                                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                                                      My thoughts exactly!

                                                                      1. re: tjr

                                                                        haha, yeah, sounds very weird, probably they are using the frozen pack from T&T ?!

                                                                        1. re: skylineR33

                                                                          On the other hand, it might be pretty much as good as it gets ramen-wise, within our fair city.

                                                                  2. I've only recently started to work my way through the few Ramen places in Toronto. It's sad that there are so few in a city as large as TO, but there we are.

                                                                    So far Kenzo is my favourite. I've been back a number of times and while it did change owners recently and there was a problem with getting ingredients for some (shio) soup bases, the rest of the menu changed hands very, very well.

                                                                    Why do I like it? Well, for starters it's not a chain. Next up, the owner is there most if not all of the time. The noodles are simply fabulous. The variety is great; many ramen places will only have 1 or 2 types to choose from; shoyu and miso for example, not that this is a bad thing...

                                                                    In the end its just really hard to compare one ramen place to another since each place puts it's own spin on the ramen. Same goes for Udon really. In my experience so far, each bowl should be enjoyed for itself and if you happen to find a place that makes it to your satisfaction; be it a chain or not, then bully for you and keep going back.

                                                                    Now, If I could find a ramen place a little closer to home, that'd be a bonus. Wonder if I can get a transfer to Yokohama? Hmmm...

                                                                    b.moddo.

                                                                    1. I found the noodle used in the new management Kenzo is a different type. It is probably not something homemade, and the akaline taste is stronger. Other than that, the ramen is just like the one before management change.

                                                                      1. Okay, so further to my previous comment on the zen of ramen. I just had lunch at Konichiwa on Baldwin. Recalling that each and every ramen place will have it's own take on ramen from noodles to soup, I have to say I was mostly satisfied with the shoyu ramen with pork that was lunch.

                                                                        The soup was piping hot, the toppings were fresh; not steamed/boiled to near death. The presentation; which is important, was lovely (see attached photo).

                                                                        The downside? It was a little heavy on the garlic, but then it said quite clearly on the menu that this was a garlic shoyu, so I'm okay with the garlic; it did overpower the soup base a little but it was still quite enjoyable. The pork wasn't quite fatty enough for my taste and while cut nicely was a little and I mean a very little less tender that it might've been.

                                                                        Would I recommend Konichiwa? Yes I would. Is it THE best ramen place in Toronto? I'd have to cite my previous post and say again that if you enjoy it for what it is it's all good.

                                                                        Did I enjoy my meal? Absolutely. Check it out, give it a go and post your thoughts.

                                                                        b.moddo

                                                                         
                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: bmoddo

                                                                          I find Konnichiwa is pretty mediocre; I've been a few times and wouldn't bother. Nothing even close to what I'd expect ramen to be.

                                                                          1. re: tjr

                                                                            Yeah, I just tried it for the first time today and to be totally honest I thought it was mediocre as well.

                                                                            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                              these ramen threads are funny but sad at the same time. I see the same usernames pining for a half decent bowl, for years now.

                                                                              Konnichiwa's rendition is pretty terrible IMO.

                                                                              1. re: aser

                                                                                :(

                                                                                1. re: aser

                                                                                  Replace ramen thread with BBQ thread which can be replaced with Mexican thread.

                                                                                  God we suck.

                                                                                  1. re: goodcookiedrift

                                                                                    I don't disagree about the subjectivity where it comes to Ramen. I won't be beating a path back to Konnichiwa for ramen any time soon.

                                                                                    It wasn't "retch inducing" and it wasn't "ramen-nirvana"... it just was.

                                                                                    Now, on the subject of really bad ramen... Ladies and gentlemen I give you Ajisen... one of the worst bowls of ramen I've ever had and won't have again.

                                                                                    It was ugly (as in not a nice presentation)... the broth was... (okay, here's a subjective quip) the broth was nasty; as in not what I like in a broth. The pork was waaaay over done; again, not how I like it. The egg, if it has been whole could've been used as a squash ball; Wotan only knows how they even cut it. The noodles...well, the noodles were more like spaghetti than ramen noodles; even allowing for regional and individual differences these noodles were on the "chunky" side for ramen.

                                                                                    Would I go back? No. No I wouldn't...

                                                                                    このラーメンはおいしいではありませんでした!

                                                                                    b.moddo

                                                                          2. iNoodle is gone. Konnichewa has good authentic ramen noodles (and excellent, delicate gyoza) but the ramen shoyu broth has become too strong/garlicky/spicy flavoured in the last six months or so, I can't tolerate it anymore. I checked out the newish Dundas & Bay location of Kenzo (where the owners listed on the framed certificates hanging on the wall had Korean names, by the way) and it was HORRIBLE - blah, spaghetti-ish noodles and brackish broth - it made Konnichewa look damn good in comparison.

                                                                            I too yearn for Kintaro ramen in Vancouver and I only had it once, 5 years ago!

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: hungrynovelist

                                                                              I don't think Konnichewa's ramen can be called good authentic ramen noodles, it is basically a bowl of packaged ramen noodle with soy sauce MSG based broth, cha siu is also pretty badly made, very inconsistent and usually not tender. Kenzo is much better in comparison, at least their noodle is home-made. For good authentic noodle, the well known tonkotsu of Ippudo at NYC can be used as a example, it is almost as good as their branch in Japan.

                                                                              1. re: hungrynovelist

                                                                                I just came back from Kenzo ( downtown ) and have to say that the shioyu ramen was not great. It was not bad, but not as great as people have said. First off, when my broth arrived, it was warm/very warm, not hot like its should be. Everything was downhill from there. How could a ramen shop serve a customer warm broth. To me, that is basic , 101 , dah.. I should have told the waitress and sent it back. My bad!. It wasn't only my soup that was warm but the others sitting at the table with me. The tonkatsu ramen is not on the menu, or else I would have probably ordered that. The shioyu ramen broth was not rich in flavour, except for a hint of kikkoman, and a hint of pork, pretty basic really. The homemade ramen noodles would be delicious I think, but ours were undercooked which made it taste kind of starchy/doughy, and that is most likely due to the fact the broth was not hot. My son had the tonkatsu, and that was not that great either, the pork was too thick and tough, with very crust. Tonkatsu is suppose to be thin ( so your not choking to get it down ) and the crust of egg/flour/breadcrumb/special spices, is suppose to be equal in thickness. The pork should always be tender, if you ever walk into california sandwich ( allen/wilson ) you can hear the ladies in the back room there pounding the cutlets silly, thats so when you eat it, it just melts in your mouth. Its pretty hard to screw up tonkatsu. Anyways, I will have to go back and try the tonkatsu ramen, every eatery deserves another chance. Maybe they just had an off day. But if other CH 'ers try this place, please let me know how the ramen was. Personally, I have to say Konichiwa is still the place to beat for ramen noodles.

                                                                                1. re: ramseywannabe

                                                                                  wannabe, I guess you have not had a good Tonkatsu before because Tonkatsu is not supposed to be thin (such as those you get in Japan is not thin). It depends on what kinds of pork it serves in the restaurant and how good they prepare it, a good quality pork is the Japanese Kurobuta "black hair" pork. Also, it is not tonkatsu ramen, it should be "Tonkotsu" ramen.

                                                                                  1. re: ramseywannabe

                                                                                    Only their tonkotsu ramen has been the stand out for me but they've stopped serving it for a while now, though it's always been an off the menu item. Last time I asked, they were saying October is when they'll have it again.

                                                                                    1. re: tksh

                                                                                      The tonkotsu ramen at Kenzo. Let's start with the basics. The soup. It was hot and a creamy white (see photo). The toppings, baby bokchoi, negi, beansprouts, egg, tamago, menma (shinachiku) and chashu were all present (again, see photo).

                                                                                      Noodles. A little thick, perhaps, but a lovely texture; well, I like them. Trouble is, noodles ignite such passionate debates amongst people. Could they be thinner, maybe.

                                                                                      Chashu. Isn't as tender as it used to be and not as tender as I've had elsewhere and at other times, like I said, decent flavor and all, but not succulent.

                                                                                      Soup's flavour? Was very nice. The soup was not fatty, nor bitter (from over cooking pork stock, a terrible waste of soup that). It was very enjoyable.

                                                                                      Had a long chat with the owner about soup. He's been working on the tonkotsu ramen for a while now. Have to give him credit for really working at it.

                                                                                      Is it "the perfect bowl of ramen"? Subjective that one. How's this, when I get back from Japan I'll have more experiences to compare with. But for now, I enjoy the ramen at Kenzo's. Yep, I've had a few not so great bowls of ramen there. I've had some "memorable" ramen at other places too, some good, some not. (Hey, we've all been there... scarfing down cup ramen with a few toppings on it out of desperation, right? [or maybe that's just me...])

                                                                                      How do 'we' (in Toronto) get better noodles? Eat more. The more you eat, the more it looks like a market and the more people will open up shop...

                                                                                      Simple no?

                                                                                      ご馳走様でした!

                                                                                      b.moddo

                                                                                      PS: Naruto... I'm not quite sure why there was naruto on tonkotsu ramen... seemed a little out of place... I ate it anyhow.

                                                                                       
                                                                                  2. re: hungrynovelist

                                                                                    Re the ownership of Kenzo, haven't been to the downtown one but went once to the North York location, shortly after it opened. The signs and menus were written in Japanese, but the management was Korean.

                                                                                    This was several years back, but the food was dire. Place was full of people, which might have explained the 45 minute wait to receive our order. In a ramen shop. For some reason they delivered the "gyoza" first -- which were without exception the worst thing I have ever eaten under that name. They were small, tasteless agegyoza -- badly deep fried, dripping with oil, and very nasty. The ramen was just undistinguished -- probably about on a level with a bog-standard Japanese ramen place. Haven't been back, don't intend to.

                                                                                    Not surprising, really, given that in Toronto we seem to have a very strong line in "Japanese" restaurants run by people who know what the food is supposed to look like, sort of, but absolutely no idea how it's supposed to taste. The "takoyaki" place in T&T in Markham was the worst offender in that regard. Order, wait 20 minutes (!), and receive six golf-balls that taste almost, but not entirely, unlike takoyaki. I guess buying the franchise and reading the manual is no substitute for real-life knowledge of the food you're selling.