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Jul 10, 2009 09:33 PM

Kenzo is now downtown. (Ramen.)

So, yes. Those of us that care for Japanese noodles have no doubt heard that Kenzo is now open on Dundas St. near Elizabeth. And I know that some people have been unhappy with either the service or the wait, in some cases and to the impatient and the uptight these things matter. Myself, I care about the noodles and the soup and the new Kenzo's is doing just fine. Yes, there are up days and down days and I honestly suggest going back a few times before you write it off.

Frankly, the Ramen at Kenzo's made my Japanese friends very happy, which is good enough for me. I've sent co-workers there and they've been happy. I've been twice now and the shoyu ramen is most excellent. Piping hot soup, the noodles are perfect. If there was one missing thing it would be menma (shinachiku) [fermented bamboo] as a topping... but feat not! This too is coming!! The owner is importing it from the west coast. You kind of need it to round out the taste of ramen, well, I think so anyhow as to any of my Japanese friends who like ramen...

The staff will get into a routine, the menu will grow and stabilize and the returning customers will just keep coming back. In short, it's already good... it's just going to get better.

I've been to Aji-sen, and in all honesty I found the noodles and what passes for ramen to be completely lacking. Kenzo on the other hand brings it to the table better than any other place in the city. Okay, it might be a 'far cry' from ramen in Japan...but, like I said, none of my friends from Japan had any complaints about Kenzo's ramen, so it must be pretty good. What am I saying!? It IS pretty good!

So, don't be put off by the odd raging hippo.... go, don't be in a hurry, take in the smells and flavours. Slurp your noodles when you eat! Drink from the bowl! Lose your sanitized North American soul in a bowl of nice, hot noodles! Come on! You know you want it!

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  1. "none of my friends from Japan had any complaints about Kenzo's ramen, so it must be pretty good."

    Well, I could (and do) complain endlessly. My friends (and I) all complain. We don't think it's "pretty good," though it's good by Toronto ramen standards. I'd rather eat at a bad ramen joint in Japan, but unfortunately, it's the best we have in Toronto.

    The service is terrible, sure, but nothing about the ramen really leaps out at me as being "pretty good."

    1. In a way, I'm glad that tjr doesn't like Kenzo, because it means more seats at Kenzo for Toronto ramen fans. While I agree that it wasn't exactly like the ramen I've had in Japan (ie. no menma, yet), it was pretty darn close, with the fresh Japanese noodles and rich, pork broth. My hubby likes Kenzo better than Ippudo and Minca (both NYC) while I still disagree, I think the char siu at Minca is better (more fat) and the broth at Ippudo is a little richer.

      The service is glacial, but that's what happens with two waitresses covering the entire restaurant. Perhaps when they have more money for more staff, you'll see an improvement. Until then, I'm happy to go and slurp their noodles and eat their takoyaki. Oishii!

      3 Replies
      1. re: eatereater123

        I know people have hometown pride and all, but Kenzo is nowhere near Ippudo or Minca on their worst days. It's just not happening folks.

        I would be so happy if we had either as an option in Toronto.

        1. re: aser

          I will have to agree, Kenzo is really nowhere near the other ramen shops mentioned in this thread, eventhough it is the best in Toronto. The tonkotsu at Kenzo is lacking the taste of a tonkotsu, it is way too mild to be a good tonkotsu, if the new one is the same as the old Kenzo.

          bmoddo, you said the noodle is perfect, can you gives more comment on the noodle of the new Kenzo when you say it is perfect ? Is it homemade ?

          1. re: skylineR33

            The owner used to make the noodles at the old location. I'd presume that this is the case at the new location. Easiest thing is to ask him, which I'll do next time I go.

            There are obviously great passions over noodles! Who knew!

      2. Your Japanese friends where probably showing their "tatemae" and hiding their "Hon ne" To call Kenzo Ramen good noodles is promoting a sorry standard for Ramen in the city. People need to call a spade a spade here and demand better.

        1 Reply
        1. What I take from all the recent posts on Kenzo is that they are argueably the best in the city for ramen. Comparisons to Japan are nice to read, but mostly academic to me as I cannot easily experience it first-hand. And if it would only diminishes my enjoyment of Toronto cuisine...why bother! I have not been to the new location as yet, but am looking forward to it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: T Long

            The thing is, you don't even have to compare it to Japan. Vancouver, New York, and LA all have far superior ramen.

            Just because we're not in Japan, doesn't mean we have to accept mediocrity. I think that's the point Notorious PIG and tjr are trying to convey. Well me too.....

            For the record, I still go to Kenzo, to satiate my fix as best as Toronto can.

            1. re: aser

              Yes! It a shame that Oriental foodies in Toronto are deprived of two really good quality comfort food. Won ton noodles for the Chinese Ch'ers and Ramen/soba for the Japanese friends. These are areas that we are definitely trailing behind Vancouver!

              1. re: aser

                Hi Aser: I made it to Kenzo last week. As many have remarked, the service was poor at lunchtime (food was very slow coming out), but we enjoyed the ramen (I had the miso and my spouse had the shoyu). I think its a good addition and is definitely an option when in the area, although next time we will stay away from the 11:45 - 1:30 lunch surge. I would put it on the same level as Konnichiwa on Baldwin. Not sure when I will be able to get to Vancouver to try out your recommendation (will not name the recommendation, as the moderators in their wonderful mysterious fashion have deleted our previous exchange), but its definitely on our list!

                1. re: T Long

                  I like the ramen at KonnichwaI but I thought Kenzo was better. At Kenzo, the broth was spicier and more flavourfu, and the toppings were better.

                  1. re: acd123

                    No disputing that Kenzo has more ramen variety than Konnichiwa....and agree that Kenzo's broth did have more depth.

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