2017 was the year I finally mustered enough energy to finish my ramen tour of Toronto. Some may say that it’s incredibly difficult to make a bowl of warm salty noodles taste bad, but I would disagree. In fact, I feel so strongly against the many ramen shops producing mediocre or straight-up bad noodles that I am only putting a few recommendations on this list for the time being.
If you’re a rookie ramen eater, here are the things to look for: Deep, multi-dimensional and flavourful broth, fresh, chewy and bouncy noodles, and well-cooked and well-prepared fresh toppings. If you’re trying to decide which kind of ramen to order, opt for a classic Tonkotsu Ramen with Shio (salt) or Shoyu (soy sauce) broth before experimenting with the novelty flavours.
Tried and True:
Sansotei:This restaurant has just the simplest, cleanest presentation and design. Every bowl I’ve had is consistently good. The lines are usually insane, but mostly because they don’t have a lot of seating. Potential drawback: If it’s winter, the line is just not worth it.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka: This is a Japanese chain that has managed to preserve a lot of consistency throughout its international locations. I love that they have combos featuring a bowl of ramen paired with a little side bowl of rice (with toppings) for those days you just want two kinds of carbs. Potential drawback: The location is not in the nice part of the Yonge and Dundas neighbourhood.
Ramen Isshin: This place makes the list because of their special broth bases such as black garlic and black sesame. I also love that they have the decadent option of grinding your own sesame seeds table-side. Potential drawback: The bathroom is downstairs.
Kinton Ramen: I am so in awe of how much the Kinka Restaurant Group has managed to expand and grow in Toronto and internationally. My favourite thing to eat here is the location-specific ramen special that each restaurant has. Potential drawback: The chairs look great, but are quite hard.
Ramen Raijin: This is a solid ramen joint with a focus on student life and beer, and part of the Zakkushi Group of restaurants. Potential drawback: I think their former location had more life to it.
On My Radar:
Konjiki Ramen: The first international branch of an eight-seat Tokyo ramen shop that’s managed to earn the title of Japan’s best ramen.
Ramen Misoya: An international chain that has a lot of Michelin Guide status.
Ryus Noodle Bar: A popular Toronto location with a mystery formula I can’t quite figure out yet from afar.
Hakata Ikkousha: Their claim to fame is their unique soup-making method of “Yobimodosi”, which makes for a super flavourful broth. Worth a try!