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Kinton Ramen - First Taste

Visited Kinton Ramen last night for the soft opening (5pm-10pm daily I think, leading up to this Friday's official launch). You have two options for the ramen, regular or light and belly or shoulder. I ordered the Shoyu regular with pork belly, my wife the Miso light with pork shoulder. To drink we went with the yuzu lemonade and a calpico soda (liquor license coming soon).

The Shoyu ramen was very delicious. The pork belly was super tender and the outer edge had a smokey almost sweet aroma - easily the best chashu ramen in Toronto. The noodles were fresh and had a nice bite. The broth was rich with bits of goodness floating around. And the Shoyu ramen came with a perfectly cooked egg, runny in the center. The chopped fresh red onions might not tickle everyone's fancy (my wife picked them out of her bowl), but I didn't mind the contrast to the deep broth. Amazingly for such hearty fare, I didn't feel at all weighed down during or after dinner.

The Miso ramen was tasty, but I preferred the Shoyu. I'd also recommend the pork belly over the shoulder (which is probably as fatty, but doesn't provide the same melt in your mouth mmm).

Kinton was designed by the same architect from Guu, I'm a fan of his modern style it really sets the mood. We sat at the communal table in the back, which is tight but comfortable enough. The price point is very affordable, dinner for two ran just $28 including tax. Kinton is a welcome addition to Baldwin street and a definite contender for the best ramen in Toronto. We'll be back soon!

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    1. re: szw

      They have made the most of the space... but it is a narrow venue (perhaps seats 30?). There is a hightop table up front, counter seating (with full view of the action in the kitchen), and a shared table in the back. There will also be patio seating soon, which is where I'll be camped :)

      1. re: JonasBrand

        Thanks for the review. Was this a special invite thing or did you just go? Any wait when you went in or when you left? (i.e. lineups?)

    2. Anyone know if they'll take reservations or its like guu's with no reservations?

      1. anyone know if their broths are vegetarian (no meat or fish used to make the stock)? i notice they have a vegetable ramen but that doesn't always mean vegetarian because of the stock.

        thanks!

        4 Replies
        1. re: helenhelen

          I don't know, but if you are looking for a good veggie ramen, I really like the one at Kenzo. They have a veggie broth and all veggie stuff with the noodles.

          1. re: helenhelen

            No it's not. The broth is still pork based.

            1. re: sbug206

              i notice they also have a miso broth on the menu at kinton... perhaps fish stock?

              1. re: helenhelen

                Nope, they just add miso paste into the same pork broth.

          2. I visited Kinton Ramen on their official opening day (May 18th) and ordered Shoyu Ramen with light broth and pork shoulder. It has only been one month since I visited NYC and had ramen at Totto, Momofuku, and Ippudo.

            First, I believe Kinton is off to a great start and will soon improve as the chefs get used to their new home (One of the chefs actually arrived on opening night with his luggage at the restaurant!)

            The ramen I had at Kinton was very good and certainly superior to similar dishes at Kenzo and Ajisen ramen. However, it is clear that by comparison to other top North American ramen, it has lots of room for improvement.

            Specifically:

            Noodles: good consistency, but too alkaline in taste - they should tone down the sodium/potassium carbonate. Also, the noodles I had were straight style, and I am hoping they will get the frizzy style.

            Broth: I had the light broth for Shoyu ramen. It was slightly too salty. It was also a tad too cloudy for shoyu style. But most of all, although the flavour was rich and meaty, it lacked a certain depth of flavour which is mastered by the momofuku interpretation I had in NYC. This flavour, as far as I can tell, comes from a slight charring or roasting of the pork which is put in the broth -- you get an extra deep flavour in the broth this way.

            Pork: The pork shoulder is quite standard, very good. My advice is that they should have one meat option which is lean. As far as I know, this is not traditional, though I am sure that in Japan it is possible to find lean meat in ramen. The momofuku "chicken" option is like this, and although it isn't traditional, it is amazing.

            I think that we have a lot to look forward to as Kinton evolves and especially when their true competitors arrive later this year. Because at the moment, they have no competition at all!

            EDIT: I have a question - - if you visit Kinton, please try to find out what their noodle process is. Do they make the noodles on site? What kinds of noodles do they have? Any more technical details would be appreciated.

            6 Replies
            1. re: mgualt

              i read on another review that the noodles are made offsite at a factory.
              but its rather vague......

              1. re: mgualt

                perhaps you should compare it to totto and ippudo instead of momofuku. What they make isn't really ramen.

                why must there be a lean version of everything? ramen is unhealthy, it's fatty. Have soba or udon if you want something healthier.

                I haven't been to Kinton yet, but am looking forward to it.

                1. re: aser

                  There should be a lean version because that's what some people prefer, and not only for health reasons. It's an easy thing to do without compromising flavour, not like asking for a lean bacon cheeseburger.

                  1. re: acd123

                    They do offer lean. That's what the choice of shoulder vs belly is for.

                    1. re: acd123

                      The most fatty part of ramen is the broth.

                      1. re: aser

                        Okay, that part I really like. But sometimes I find that fatty meat (especially if the fat is chewy) is kinda gross. So, keep the broth fatty, but offer a lean meat option as a topping.

                2. Went today and tried the shoyu and shio ramen. The soup base is not great; rather thin. Not much better than Kenzo. Also there was no menma (bamboo shoot), but the eggs were perfect 半熱卵 (half-boiled egg). Everything else was fine, but if for you the ramen is about the soup base, you will be disappointed.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: echeng25

                    I really think this is underrating it by a very wide margin. I had the shio today and it was a very rich and fatty broth. I would say Niwate (or whatever its called in J-town) is a little bit better than kenzo. I'd say this is a lot better. I'm not like a ramen guru or anything but I've eaten more than my fair share in tokyo and nyc and I think its almost just as good. I think the noodles need just a bit more..something...not sure what yet. I think I would have liked them a little bit fatter and chewier.

                    1. re: szw

                      I'm kind of convinced the place in J-Town serves noodles from frozen.

                      I find Kinton Ramen has great noodles. Whoever upthread said it's too alkaline, I definitely didn't find it so. I could barely taste any alkaline, but then, maybe I'm used to won-ton noodles which have a pretty pronounced alkaline taste.

                      I think the noodles are the best I've had in Toronto. To be quite honest, I was almost sure it was going to be crap, because the guy behind the counter just dumped them into the basket and left it there for about 2-3 minutes. They didn't do any of the fierce stirring you see in a place like Kintaro in Vancouver. I found them to be very thick - thicker than Kenzo, at any rate, and very nice and chewy.

                      The cha siu, as someone said upthread, is amazing. They torch it with a blowtorch after stewing, which adds a bit of nice caramelization and smokiness on the surface. I got one giant piece of belly, which was a bit of a surprise, because it wasn't rolled and it was't sliced.

                      The eggs have a nicely soft yolk, but they didn't have that nice soy coloration on the outside. The white was uniform in color, as far as I could tell.

                      The soup base was thick, and it didn't have that heavy, salty taste that you get at Kenzo. I think, though, it might be missing something. Maybe chicken bones.