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. Thankfully they’ve opened up quite a few locations now and the lines are not as big of a problem, though most spaces are still quite small. Potential drawback: If it’s winter, sometimes the lines are just not worth it.
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: Some of the locations have hard to access washrooms.
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 locations are an interesting choice.
Kinton Ramen: The Kinka Restaurant Group has managed to grow significantly in Toronto and internationally in the last few years. My favourite thing to eat here is the location-specific ramen special that each restaurant has. Potential drawback: Each location has different management and it can be hard to know what you will find on any given day and place.
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: It has a focus on student life and beer.
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.