Location: 456 Queen Street West, Toronto
If you’re looking for a Japanese noodle fix and you want something a bit different from the now-ubiquitous ramen shops throughout the GTA, Raku is worth a shot.
Raku specializes in udon noodles — which are thicker and chewier than ramen noodles — that they serve either hot or cold. I went with one of the cold choices, though I started with the yaki nasu: “deep fried eggplant, spicy miso pork, quail egg.”
The waitress explained that you should mix this one up so that the egg combines with the eggplant and the pork. The eggplant is soft, but still has some texture, and works very well with the meaty ground pork. The miso gives it an addictively savoury flavour, and the egg cranks up its silky richness. It’s a tasty dish.
As for the star of the show, I went with the zaru: “chilled noodles, dipping sauce.”
It’s a really simple dish; the dipping sauce basically tastes like a milder soy sauce. It really comes alive once you jazz it up with the accompanying green onions, mushrooms, wasabi, and the quail egg (not to mention the little dish of shichimi togarashi — a zippy Japanese spice blend — on the table).
The noodles are really the star of the show here, and they’re great, with a hearty chewiness that stands up nicely to the flavourful sauce.