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Jul 29, 2009 07:22 AM

kenzo ramen - no more tonkotsu?!? no more reason to go...

i was at kenzo last night and after my first bowl very near to when they first opened (where waitresses looked confused at the mention of tonkotsu) i was really anticipating trying their tonkotsu. i had the satropramen (sp?) the time before as a second choice and just thought it was ok... dreams of rich porky milky broth and tender cha siu were dancing in my head.

but it was not to be... he guy looked scared and told me that they couldn't serve it anymore. something about legalities? maybe health... it was all very confusing.

anyone know why in the world they are not serving tonkotsu any more? otherwise i can't go back if they were just poorly excusing their way out of serving some porky broth. the shoyu that i settled for lacked any kind of depth and while the noodles were chewier than the first time they still weren't chewy enough and lacked any flavour unto themselves. they also soaked up enough broth at the end to be a bit mushy.

if i definitely wasn't lied to then i'll be back just for the takoyaki (best in the city), gyoza (nicely filled with juicy flavour) and to try their yakitori. but i will always wonder of the tonkotsu that could have been.

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  1. Well, that sucks. Maybe this is why he hadn't put it on the actual menu at the new location; perhaps he was just testing it out and seeing if it was a feasible option?

    I also like the takoyaki there; the gyoza are just okay. Have you tried the gyoza at Omi? I haven't been in a while, but they used to be really good (Berkshire pork filling). I want to try the yakitori at Kenzo as well, but a bowl of ramen is a lot of food!

    2 Replies
    1. re: tjr

      no idea... i'm hoping someone else might have a better explanation but it was all i could get out of them at the time since they were quite busy.

      i like the gyoza better than most gyoza i've had and mind you i dont' typically order them because i find them usually disappointing. i like the thin skin and the abundant juicy filling but it's certainly still far from some of the stuff you get a dive bars in japan. i only had the gyoza once from omi near when they first opened and i didn't like the skins... i'll have to try it again when i'm there next. since i'm off of the ramen now, i'll tell you how the yakitori goes ;)

      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        The gyoza at Omi were hit and miss at the start: sometimes the skins would be thin, other times thick (too bad the rest of the menu wasn't as good). When they were thin they were quite good. The ones at Kenzo are okay in comparison to what I consider good gyoza -- definitely better than the deep fried frozen ones served at most places.

        They're really simple to make from scratch though, so I don't usually bother ordering them unless they're exceptional (I don't find Kenzo's to be that good).

    2. I tried their yakitori. They really need to improve the flavour and grilling of it. l can see the person grilling it patiently on the grill, but it is just not good enough for $3 a skew.

      Health issue ?! I had a whole dish of pork belly in a shanghai restaurant ! Their Tonkotsu I tried a few weeks ago is not that porky anyway, the cha siu is also very lean.

      1 Reply
      1. re: skylineR33

        i forgot to comment on that.. the pork was very lean, badly sliced (huge variances in thickness piece to piece, some half an inch thick) and not all that tender.

        health or illegal is what they told me... so very vague.

      2. That is indeed sad news if true. It's the only ramen I order at Kenzo, not a fan of their other bowls.

        Their gyoza is consistently good.


        1 Reply
        1. re: aser

          It's also the only one I like there... I wonder what the actual reason was behind them dropping it?

        2. Called them today, Tonkotsu will be back in September sometime as he needs to import some ingredient for it from japan to make the soup base (its not instant of course). I'm guessing it's the proper pork bone he needs??

          I am beyond delighted that Kenzo is downtown, their Takoyaki is quite good (easily the best in Toronto), and the different ramens of course are also tops in Toronto. And I will say this, although I haven't had ramen in New York, Kenzo is not far behind from Kintaro in Vancouver, which while tasty was nothing really that special.

          And of course it's not on the level of anything in Japan, but that doesn't mean that Kenzo doesn't provide a delicious product, I and many others on this board think it does. The purists need to understand that it would absolutely be unfeasible to expect that kind of quality of ramen, the cost would be far too high and the payoff absolutely nill in this city.

          Of course purists and ramen afficionados would love it, but how many of those are there in Toronto? 30? 50? And the Japanese expat community is not nearly large enough in this city to offset that.

          Kenzo is awesome for what it is.

          7 Replies
          1. re: themiguel

            ah thanks! i shouldn't be fear mongering but i just couldn't find the time to hound them about the whys and whats and relayed what they told me. which is a bizarre explanation for just not having specific ingredients.

            anyway.... i'm just going to take them for what they are and what their strengths are. i'm not going to bother with ramen until sept and will satisfy myself with all the other things i like on the menu.

              1. re: Teep

                haven't had them yet... but will try soon. they are my fix for takoyaki for the time being and i love those little suckers!

            1. re: themiguel

              The chef actually came out to talk to me when I tried to order tonkotsu xamen a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, he doesn't have the right kind of pots and he's wasting a lot of time and resources just to make a small batch of pork bone soup.

              He could buy MSG laden pre-made soup base from suppliers for about a dollar per serving but instead he's ordering specialised pots from Japan for the sole purpose of making tonkotsu. Should come September is also what he said to me.

              I too thought their pork is no where near fatty enough but maybe I keep getting the lean cuts everytime.

              1. re: tksh

                So we now have three different stories (although the health/illegal issue could because he needs the right type of equipment to make larger batches, perhaps?)!

                1. re: tjr

                  And I'm not sure if I got my version entirely correct either because I had trouble understanding the chef's English But we seem to agree on the September date so far and that's only a month away.

                2. re: tksh

                  Hmn. I haven't had an issue with their pork not being fatty enough. The orders I've had, (twice now) were quite balanced. I expect, at some point, I won't get the "perfect" cut prize though! Just the luck of the draw + personal preference, I guess...

              2. I think the chef (if he is not an idiot) will do everything he can to get this back on the menu since it seems to be so very popular.

                Speculating about which one of these second-hand tales is true takes away from time spent eating or other more pleasurable activities. If it's not going to happen until the fall, then nothing we say here will change the fact that there ain't gonna be no tonkotsu until the fall.

                I will go there because I enjoy their food. If a better ramen place opens up, I would probably shift to it, all other things being equal. With izakaya style dining coming to Toronto, maybe we can all hope for a ramen place that meets the high standards talked about in this and other ramen threads.