Ramen Isshin -- College/Bathurst
Thanks to a tip from aser in this thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/929446), I checked out this newly opened ramen place, since I was in the area and I love tantanmen.
TL;DR review: tasty tantanmen, decent portions/price, would go again.
Space has seating for about 25-30 people, including a wall of cushioned, backed bar stools for all the single diners. It's spacious and seating seems comfortable. Only issue is the front door lets in drafts easily, but maybe they will address this issue with a curtain.
Menu has about 8-10 (?) different ramen, which range in price from $8.50 (?) to $10.25. There's red miso, shio tonkotsu sesame, shoyu tonkotsu, maybe a couple other shoyu-based ramen, and two veggie ramen.
You can add toppings like corn, an egg, chili oil, etc.. Desserts are also available.
Had the featured black tantanmen ($10.25), which had "thick, twisty" noodles, a thin, small slice of pork belly chashu, a small mound of ground pork in a sauce, some minced pickled veg (zha cai), diced garlic chives, and a drizzle of chili oil in a tonkotsu-based miso broth. Comes with a small suribachi and surikogi so you can grind up some black sesame to add to your broth (halfway through, they advise).
Bowl is a decent size. It's slightly bigger than Santouka and maybe about the same size as Sansotei.
Broth has a touch of creaminess and is enriched with ground black sesame. There's a bit of sweet nuttiness to the broth, which comes through despite the other powerful flavours of miso, chili, and garlic chives. My only quibble is that it was too salty. (Caveat: I have a fairly bad cold which has made me lose about 30%-40% of my sense of taste.) Although the broth is tonkotsu-based, it's not Santouka-levels of richness/fullness. There's no greasy feeling in the throat afterwards. It's a bit spicy, but not unbearable.
Noodles are a perfect match, since the slightly wavy, thick noodles capture the bits of miso, sesame, and ground pork. The noodles are nicely cooked for some toothsomeness (I usually order noodles katame/firm, but forgot this time), but they got softer as I got to the bottom of the bowl.
The amount of chashu was quite small, so I can't really give an opinion on it, except that it was cooked well and wasn't dry.
I would go back again to try the other ramen, particularly the shio sesame tonkotsu.
Here's their Yelp page (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/ramen-isshin-t...), which doesn't have any reviews yet, but contains the contact info and the hours.
Does anyone know if there are line-ups starting to form?
Would I be rolling the dice trying to show up with ~8 people for dinner on a Thursday?
I went last Thursday with a single friend around 8 pm (it was excellent, hence my return with ~8 people) and the place was pretty sparse, though oddly did pick up as we were leaving.