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A-ok foods (ramen by yours truly)

  • s

It's open now! sichuan tsukemon is more like a Dan Dan mien than a ramen, but it's a really delicious Dan Dan mien! Better than ba shu jia Ren or sichuan legend Imo. Much better!

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  1. Toronto Life has a photo gallery of the space and the food: http://www.torontolife.com/daily/dail...

    2 Replies
    1. re: canmark

      portions of ramen look kind of small...i know it really does not matter but the walls sort of look like a cheap version of what kinton did...but with green benches? i will check it out but not if there is a line.

      1. re: limitedtimeoffer

        Of all the new ramen places, kinton has HUGE portions. All other places are similar to this I believe. (and tastier. I was a fan of kinton's when they opened but the others are all just better IMO).

    2. Ramen at Yours Truly owned A-OK is sooo good and non conventional. The noodles are Korean styles so more like mein and less bouncy and chewy which is okaaay. The broth is chicken based and the yuzu element makes is Momofukuesque. The soy tea egg actually tastes of soy and tea (hallelujah) so I'm a big fan.

      The San Choi Bao duck lettuce wraps were way too saucy and SALTY. Mentioned that to them but hey it's 2nd night out of the gate.

      Bonus they're up the street from me, downer, it's a small place so it'll get busy fast.
      Service was great, and love the simple fun design isn't "reclaimed" or as dim as a cave!

      1. I have mixed feeling about this place.
        The good:
        Snail Salad - I have never seen this combination in any asian street food (kim-chi snails with sho-mein, I liked it). Could use a tad more sesame oil, but it was a very encouraging start to the meal.
        Shoyu - Just perfect. I wouldn't change a thing. The soup was not over-salted, and the noodles soaked up all the beautiful flavours, but still retained that 'spring-iness' as remarked in Tampopo (although, it is FAR from the traditional ramen - be forewarned). My companion, who worships Santouku, was not happy with the portion size. I, on the other hand, was happy with it. It left me more room to sample other things. So keep in mind, it's not a place for you to just have a bowl of ramen and be done with.

        The not so good:
        The tofu appetizer with chips - really awful. The chips were chewy and stale, and the tofu was oversalted and cut into too big of a chunkful to be 'scooped' in any way.
        Drinks - very limited alcoholic beverages. I am sure it will change over time though. There was horchata on the menu - seemed like a popular item amongst patrons.

        I enjoy the casualness of the place and the staff. They have many kinks to work out, and also, they need better signage!

        1. Had the ramen a second time and noticed the pork slice was different. Shoulder this time instead of belly? I enjoyed it but not consistent.
          Snail salad was ok but wouldn't order again. Noodles with noodles if you're having ramen....
          Fried rice was kind of standard issue. It came with a hot sauce that was interesting but overall didn't care for it.
          So far only the shoyu ramen has been worth it for me...

          3 Replies
          1. re: chocabot

            Have you tried the tsukemon? (ill keep calling it dan Dan mien!)

            Snail salad was okay, but disappointed to see such a standard sauce that is served at every Korean restaurant in Toronto when you order dukboki. It wasn't even a particularly good version of the sauce but I think most people eating here won't notice this stuff so closely.

            1. re: szw

              I have not. I tried the Momofuku noodle dish that's similar and while that one was good I got bored half way through...

              Totally gree about the snail salad.

              1. re: szw

                The tsukemen was ok. Think of the ramen bowl contents drained and in a plate with a warm bowl of oily sichuan peppercorn, chinese bean sauce on the side. Spicing was ok for me and I'd consider it a standard "medium hot" plus the tingle of the crushed peppercorn. (Again to compare to a similar Momofuku's similar dish, it's not as nuanced and seemingly oilier. At Momo they add candied cashews and spinach to the cold dish so it seems more of a noodle salad.) I prefer A-Ok's Shoyu ramen dish to this one.

                The snail salad, fried rice and duck san choi bao are off the current menu and they added a ox tongue salad, fish in the weeds (sounds like a sashimi on seaweed salad) and a pork ssam.

                The pork ssam is a huge improvement on the duck as it wasn't as saucy messy and the salt was under control. Belly was used here and grilled pork shoulder for the tsukemen.

            2. We tried a few things but the best by far was the brussel sprouts - wok-charred with bacon and topped with japanese mayo and bonito. Delicious and addictive. Shoyu ramen was really good too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ItsRainingMian

                Do you mean the Kewpie mayo? I find it way tooo sweet in most dishes. I love sprouts and bacon but the thought of the mayo kind of ruins it for me.

              2. seeing that it is from the owners of yours truly, are any of the ramen dishes vegetarian? i know they have some other non-ramen dishes that are, judging from a photo that i saw from the menu.

                8 Replies
                1. re: helenhelen

                  there is only one ramen and it is chicken based

                  1. re: chocabot

                    okay :(

                    i have only ever tried veg ramen once (at ajisen) and it was awful. i want to see what the fuss is all about but impossible to find good veg ramen (or veg ramen in general :))

                    1. re: helenhelen

                      It might help to understand that half the fuss about ramen is the quality of the broth. A lot of places win kudos with their unctuous, cloudy, porky broths. So getting a truly vegetarian ramen may be a very tall order, as the richness of the broth is hard to replicate with veggies.

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        i was thinking that could be the issue.

                        i wonder if there is a way to approximate the qualities of the pork broth though. i imagine that slow cooking(?) of the pork might bring out more umami flavour.. so maybe there is way to make a good veg broth using other things to bring out umami.. or maybe not. :)

                        there is a thread on here somewhere about umami...

                        1. re: helenhelen

                          There are some things that vegetarians just aren't meant to have. Ramen being one of those.

                          Sure you can have a veggie broth with noodles, but it won't be ramen.

                          Back on topic, I really enjoyed the lightness of the chicken shoyu broth. I haven't had a better shoyu ramen in Toronto yet. Brought back memories of great shoyu ramen at the defunct Chikubu (nyc).

                          The wings I was a little disappointed with, Oddseoul does a better version up the street.

                          1. re: aser

                            A friend recently raved about the vegetarian ramen at Kinton.

                            1. re: Full tummy

                              i heard that they use pork broth for their vegetable ramen. can anyone confirm?

                          2. re: helenhelen

                            It's not only the umami, it's the gelatin mouth-feel that comes from the animal bones and cartilage.

                            I'm not sure there's a great substitute for that. Thickeners (agar, corn starch) are ok but they don't have that 'fatty/sticky' feel to them and are sometimes unsuited to long simmers - corn starch would have to be last minute.

                  2. new favourite! dan dan mien and bulgogi torta. Had them twice now and I'm glad to find things I like other than the shoyu ramen and pork ssam :)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chocabot

                      heard this was very good! Gotta go try that dan dan mein.

                    2. Starting April 8, they are going to be open 7 days/week...yay!!

                      Here's the link to the Twitter announcement:

                      https://twitter.com/AOKfoods/status/3...

                      1. I really want to like them, BUT - they really need to man-up their stock!

                        4 Replies
                          1. re: kwass

                            Tried their Shoyu x3. All 3 times, the flavours are all over the place. I understand that they are not aiming for that authentic Ramen broth, but twice, they were either too sweet or too salty for my liking.
                            For me, the flavours are just not focused and the stock doesn't have enough depth that makes me want to have more, and the quality is not consistent.

                            In-house noodles? Kudos guys. But if the stocks don't measure up, it's not a good ramen.

                            1. re: happycamper

                              That's too bad. Have you tried anything else there?

                              1. re: kwass

                                Yes, I loved their brussel sprouts. The wings were good too - but that's before I had Odd Seoul's version.

                        1. Really like this spot....its the perfect place when you want good food which is cheap...loved the bulgogi tort, chicken wings and salted cod inari - too bad my hubby and I cant eat pork cause the dan dan mien looked sooo good:(

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: akhorasanee

                            Funny that you just posted, because I went today for lunch and wasn't at all impressed. I had the wings and the sichuan noodles with chicken. The wings were way too salty, and the noodles had barely any chicken, and a little too much coriander for my taste. But to be fair, I'm not a big fan of coriander, and should have requested that it be omitted. I also had the 5-spice bun (oops...almost forgot about that), which was delicious!

                            1. re: kwass

                              Funny, I've been going there on a regular basis for the last couple months. Absolutely love the chicken wings, and ramen. Noodles might be the best in TO. While their broth could be a bit better, it's not as bad as some would describe. I enjoy it. Staff is always friendly and accommodating.

                              1. re: justxpete

                                Staff was super nice, and the noodles tasted good, but like I said, they had barely any chicken in them. As for the coriander, I shouldn't complain, because it's just a personal preference. I was going to ask if there was coriander in the noodles, and i forgot, so it's my own fault. But the wings were incredibly salty. That being said, it was probably just an blip on the part of the guy making them, because I've never heard anything but raves about the wings.

                                1. re: kwass

                                  You're aware that they don't typically serve a lot of meat w/ ramen in general, yes? In any case, you can always ask for an additional portion, which they've been more than happy to provide, previously.

                                  1. re: justxpete

                                    I wasn't aware of that. Thanks justxpete. Don't get me wrong though. In terms of taste, I thought the noodles were very tasty, and I would order them again, just next time without the coriander (for no reason other than personal preference).

                          2. Any recent experiences with A-Ok in particular non ramen dishes? Thinking of going soon.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: ylsf

                              They changed their menu recently. Haven't been since they changed it. But their food has really grown on me!! One of the changes is they now have 2 types of wings: KFC and their chino wings. The steamed buns and the Sichuan dumplings look really good! They're on my list of things to try the next time I'm there :)

                              Here's a link to the new menu:

                              http://yours-truly.ca/updates/aokmenu...

                              1. re: kwass

                                had their new take on wings - chino wings.
                                something in there totally scalded our palates. f'ing disgusting. it was like salt was mixed with Draino. our mouths were chemically burning.
                                the next morning, my wife had an inflammed papillae.
                                it's a shame because it was my 2nd fave place in the GTA for wings.

                                1. re: atomeyes

                                  The chino wings have always been on the menu. It's the KFC wings which are the more recent addition.

                                  Sorry to hear about your experience!

                                  1. re: atomeyes

                                    I'm guessing sichuan peppercorns...were your lips numb and tingling?

                                    1. re: sbug206

                                      Yeah, the one time I went there I had a noodle dish that was super heavy on the sichuan peppercorns, so that sounds like the most likely culprit.

                                      1. re: sbug206

                                        wish i could tell you what did it.
                                        it wasn't even a spicy type of tingling.
                                        the best comparison i had was when i was in Thailand and i had green mango with this crystaline dip. tried it and thought "these dudes are asking me to dip my mango into spicy, salty Draino."
                                        i used to declare A-OK as my top 3 wings in the city. the last trip really knocked it off the list. my wife wouldn't touch the wings and i was having a hard time eating them. couldn't taste my ramen much after that. again, not really spicy, but more of a burning, numb, almost salty-sour taste.

                                        1. re: atomeyes

                                          Just out of curiosity, if A-Ok wings were one of your top 3, what are your other 2?

                                          1. re: kwass

                                            Buster Rhino's.
                                            Oddseoul.

                                            Oddseoul may be the best.

                                            i also like the ones at Congee Star when you get it with the "chinese salsa". perfectly breaded and fried.

                                          2. re: atomeyes

                                            I am assuming you didn't mention it to them? I would have been curious to here their response to this. I am kind of scared to go there now, I guess I will be avoiding the chino wings for now :)

                                            1. re: ylsf

                                              didn't mention it. if someone from A-OK is reading this, they'll know who we are. it was July 27. they were closing for a private function but were nice enough to seat us anyways. so i didn't want to be "THAT GUY" who complains after something nice was done.

                                              my tongue burns just thinking about it. and i'm not kidding. this horrible acidic, non-peppery burn. and my wife's tongue had a purple, swollen taste bud the next day that fell off.

                                              bah...

                                            2. re: atomeyes

                                              the burning, numbing, salty-sour taste is most likely something from a sichuan background, as others have mentioned. when i go to hot spicy spicy up in north york, it's the same feeling for most of the spicy dishes they offer. usually, the feeling subsides by the end of the meal. i don't know if this comes from sichuan peppercorns though...

                                              i've never ordered the chino wings, since i love the kfc there; but now, i may need to give it a shot!

                                              definitely need to try the wings at oddseoul now too.

                                              1. re: msprnt

                                                To further this, the numbing is a trait of the flower pepper used in Sichuan cooking.

                                      2. re: ylsf

                                        Their beef salad is decent, but their best offering is the dan dan mein. They finish it off in the wok so you get the wok hay flavs.

                                        Their wings are good but I do like Oddseoul's more.

                                      3. An update on my experiences at A-Ok from another thread:
                                        (seems like it's decline continues)

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9004...

                                        (Update on A-Ok. I brought the SO in (whos' been in Van) to sample the Ramen at Aok. She was excited about the noodles. When we got there, we asked about the broth - as she has a shellfish allergy. Unfortunately, the broth at A-Ok has shellfish, which is fine - but when we asked if they could serve her broth without the shellfish, the answer was not that they couldn't, but they wouldn't - saying it "wouldn't be Ramen". Really? tell that to Santouka, among others, who only use pork/chicken to make their broth. In any case - we were willing to accept that it wouldn't be quite as good as normal - and the place is closeby to home, so that's why I've been going regularly - but for the "chef" to be able to accommodate a shellfish allergy, but refuse to do so, irrespective of 'artistic license', is absurd.

                                        And if, in fact, the broth would have been horrible, then the 2nd time I asked the server to check (because what he said initially was terse and confusing), the "chef" should have come out and spoke to us about what the issue was.

                                        I don't mind chefs or restaurants refusing to alter their dish based on artistic license, but to refuse to alter a dish due to an allergy when you are able, is another matter entirely.

                                        So we got up and left. I won't be going back - and based on how busy it's been every time I go, they could really use the business.

                                        We were able to eat at a number of Ramen places w/o issue in Van, although at Motomachi, she had to settle for the Vegetable/vegetarian broth, which left much to be desired.

                                        We call and ask (time permitting), each time we go to a new place. First we ask if they use shellfish in their broth, second we ask if they can serve it w/o the shellfish, and lastly we ask if they have vegetarian broth (which they quite often do).

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: justxpete

                                          Sorry but how are they supposed to whip you up a long-simmered broth without shellfish? If their regular broth is simmered with shellfish, that's just the way it is. Order something else. This seems a tad unreasonable.

                                          1. re: childofthestorm

                                            I think jp was more upset about the attitude. They could of handled that better.

                                            1. re: childofthestorm

                                              "but when we asked if they could serve her broth without the shellfish, the answer was not that they couldn't, but they wouldn't"

                                              As in, they had broth available that did not have shellfish in it, but refused to serve it to us "because it wouldn't be ramen" - direct quote. Typically, in most places, the shellfish powder is added afterwards.

                                              Did you not read that part?

                                              Ps. We've been to 20 or so Ramen places over-all. Every single one has accommodated us to the best of their ability, with the single exception of A-ok.

                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                I think restaurants have the right to serve things the way they want to, but that's a topic for another discussion. Sorry they gave you bad attitude but maybe it was mutual.

                                                1. re: childofthestorm

                                                  Not at all.

                                                  If you could be bothered to have read above, you'd know that I was somewhat of a regular, and a fan of this place until this incident.

                                                  Allergies are a different matter than artistic license.

                                                    1. re: justsayn

                                                      Sure. But no apology was offered, or since has been.

                                                      I'm not going to risk going there again just to have history repeat itself.

                                          2. So I went last night.

                                            First, remind me to avoid places without chairs/backs to rest on. I found the bench style seating really uncomfortable. I guess the idea is to get you in and out quickly and not linger.

                                            We had an order of the KFC wings, pork buns and and the cold noodle dish with chicken.

                                            I really enjoyed the wings and the pork buns were quiet good as well (and one was pretty filling on its own) but I prefer the versions they do at BMB.

                                            The noodle dish had that "numbing" component in it though (mentioned to be sichuan pepper/flowers in this thread). I found it to be an interesting sensation to start but it became almost overwhelming. Between the two of us we couldn't finish the dish because we were full from the other food but it is probably better that we didn't have more room because I started feeling my body react to it and trying to cool me down. I felt a bit "off" after... Maybe just the one I had was heavy handed on that sichuan or maybe just the way I reacted but still I probably would not order it again (unless I split one dish like 6 ways :) )...

                                            Anyway, when the days get colder I will go back to give their warm ramen a shot and I would definitely do the KFC wings again once I try all of the other spots I want to go to first :)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: ylsf

                                              Yes, Dan Dan Mein is a typical Ma La dish. You it is good when it is very Ma (numbing).

                                              1. re: ylsf

                                                i also assume that they and the other ramen places use MSG.

                                                really crappy combination.

                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                    care to explain the lack of surprise? i take it you're not a fan at all.....i for one am sad to hear they're closing as i really like A-Ok

                                                      1. re: Sam I Am

                                                        I never encountered the poor service suffered by jp, but I too am not surprised. Been there a few times, and it was rarely even half full. I did like the food there and prefer it over the County General downstairs which is always packed.

                                                        1. re: nogoro

                                                          I agree. Never had bad service there, and really enjoyed the food. It was fun and at a good price point.

                                                          1. re: nogoro

                                                            I'm pretty sure that not being street level probably didn't help their business either

                                                            1. re: disgusti

                                                              http://www.thestar.com/life/finecuisi...

                                                              A little late for the Star to be promoting them, and the address is wrong, too :(