Delicious Ramen at Ryu’s Noodle Bar

Ryus Noodle BarLocation: 786 Broadview Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://ryusnoodlebar.com/

A couple of months ago, Ryu’s Noodle Bar made a bunch of headlines by being one of only two non-Japanese ramen joints invited to set up a stall in the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum in Japan.

Obviously, a visit was inevitable.

(And yes, technically the place is called Ryus Noodle Bar, without the apostrophe, but I’m not spelling it that way.  Get out of here with that.)

Ryus Noodle Bar

Their specialty is “RYUS rich shio,” which is similar to the porky tonkotsu style of ramen that’s so popular in Toronto, but made with chicken instead of pork.

It’s basically Touhenboku, but better (sorry, Touhenboku, but you’ve been bested).

The chicken-based broth at Ryu’s is fairly similar to what they’re serving at Touhenboku, but with a richer consistency and a more satisfying depth of flavour.

Ryus Noodle Bar

All the issues I had with Touhenboku — the one-note flavour and the greasy consistency — are completely absent here.  Yes, the bowl has an intense chicken flavour, but there’s enough going on that you never get sick of it.  Once you hit the bottom of the bowl, you’re sad to see it end.

And despite its incredible richness, there’s absolutely no greasiness.

I can’t say enough about the flavour — it’s basically like the best roast chicken that you’ve ever had, but condensed down into a soup.

Ryus Noodle Bar

The noodles and toppings are great, too.  It’s topped with a slice of chicken along with the typical chasu (which is delicious); the chicken is white meat, but it’s cooked perfectly, making it incredibly tender.

They suggest you add an egg to the bowl, which is an additional charge, but totally worth it.  The yolk is creamy, custardy, and perfect.  I wish it were a little bit hotter (it was actually quite cold, which is maybe my only significant complaint about the whole bowl), but that’s a minor issue.

Suffice it to say, Ryu’s is a very, very strong contender for the best bowl of ramen in the city.  It’s so good.

The Porchetta at Porchetta & Co.: Still Great

Porchetta & Co.Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://porchettaco.com/

Though I’m a big fan of the porchetta sandwich at Porchetta & Co., my tendency is to get tempted by the various fried chicken sandwich specials.  It’s been ages since I’ve had the good old plain porchetta sandwich.

Porchetta & Co.

I was afraid it might have gone downhill.  It’s an outstanding sandwich, but many successful restaurants have a hard time maintaining consistency over the years, and eventually become a victim of their own success.  This is especially true once expansion becomes a factor.

Well, I’m happy to say that this doesn’t seem to be an issue here.  The porchetta sandwich: still outstanding.

Porchetta & Co.

I didn’t see any crackling when I opened it up, which concerned me.  But I guess it was all hiding under the meat, because there was a pretty good amount.  (I could have used more, but then it’s basically impossible to get enough crackling.  I could have an all-crackling sandwich, and I’d still be like “that was pretty good, but it needed more crackling.”)

I also thought the sandwich looked a little lean on first inspection, but again, it was all hiding in there; the meat was super tender, with a perfect amount of tasty fat interspersed throughout.

Porchetta & Co.

It’s a seriously, seriously great sandwich.  The crispy, fluffy bun is as perfect as ever, and the pork itself is still top-notch.  The spicing is subtle compared to some porchetta, but there’s more than enough for it to pack some serious flavour.  That’s not to mention that the milder seasoning allows the natural flavour of the pork to really shine through.

Porchetta & Co.

You can get all kinds of toppings, if you want — in fact, the “House Special” is topped with parmesan, truffle sauce, mustard, and hot sauce.   And certainly, it’s not un-tasty.  But all that stuff is superfluous, and worse, it just gets in the way of the amazing pork.  The porchetta is so tender, porky, and herby; obscuring it with additional sauces and flavours just seems like a shame.

Decent Noodles at Origination Noodle House

Origination Noodle HouseLocation: 421 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.originationtoronto.ca/

The dish I ordered at Origination Noodle House turned out to be basically the exact same one I had at Dagu Rice Noodle.  I probably should have realized that it was the same dish, but it didn’t occur to me until I actually started eating.

It was fine.  I wasn’t crazy about it at Dagu Rice Noodle, and I was similarly unmoved by its charms here.

Origination Noodle House

The presentation was interesting.  It’s basically a bowl of noodle soup that features thick rice noodles along with various meats and veggies in a basic (and bubbling hot) broth.  But at Origination, it comes completely deconstructed.

Origination Noodle House

First, they bring you a plate with all of the various meats and vegetables, then they bring a bowl of noodles, and finally, a bubbling hot bowl of broth.  Everything gets dumped into the broth, and you’re good to go.

I think the version at Dagu Rice Noodle was slightly better, if only because the meat (and the tender pork in particular) was more satisfying.  It was otherwise very similar: chewy rice noodles, veggies of various textures that all taste about the same, and a simple broth that practically demands a very liberal application of chili oil.

Origination Noodle House

Like at Dagu, I didn’t dislike eating it, but I can’t say I’m in any particular rush to have it again.

Nachos at Cineplex

Cineplex nachosLocation: 110 Courtneypark Drive East, Mississauga
Websitehttps://www.cineplex.com/Theatres/FoodAndDrink

Yes, I’m reviewing movie theatre nachos.  Big whoop, wanna fight about it?

I actually used to really like the nachos at Cineplex!  They’re junk, but tasty junk.  Or at least, they were.

I haven’t had them in ages, but I feel like they used to be way better.  Maybe I’m crazy.

The nacho cheese sauce used to be salty goo that had almost no resemblance to anything even close to real cheese — and yet there was something oddly satisfying about it.

I’ll admit that it’s quite possible I’m just getting snobbier, but the nachos lacked the junky joys of their previous self.

It probably doesn’t help that the cheese comes in pre-filled containers that are too small to dip chips into.

Cineplex nachos

Seriously, who designed this??  Why not make the cups slightly shorter and wider?  It’s a definite “you had one job” situation.

Even outside of the hilariously ill-conceived containers, the cheese itself seemed less salty, and like it was actually trying to resemble real cheese.  But it did this extremely poorly, so you wind up with something with a neither-here-nor-there flavour that’s bland and unsatisfying.

The chips themselves are exactly as I remember them, at least.  They’re not great (and they always taste vaguely stale), but they’re crunchy and satisfying.

The jalapenos are the clear highlight.  I love pickled jalapenos, but when you buy them at the supermarket, they’re inevitably mushy, with a disappointingly mild level of spice.  These ones have a great crunch and a decent amount of heat.  They take something that would otherwise be mostly inedible and make it tolerable.

(Mostly) Tasty Wheel Cakes at Formocha

FormochaLocation: 55 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.formochabubbletea.com/

They sell Taiwanese-style wheel cakes at Formocha (which are essentially pancakes that are cooked in a circular mold with a sweet filling) and they’re mostly pretty good.  But there are a couple of issues.

Formocha

The first (and biggest) issue?  Red bean wasn’t a filling choice, at least when I went.  I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to deduct about a million points for its absence.  I mean, come on.  It’s the classic filling.  Red bean or GTFO.

Formocha

I wound up trying custard, and Oreo custard.  They were both tasty enough, but (and here’s the second issue) the custard tasted off.  There was something weird about it, with an almost fruity flavour that was vaguely off-putting.

The Oreo was much better — rather than the chunks that you might expect, it was filled with an entire cookie, which was surprisingly delightful.

Plus, the cakes themselves were super fresh (they cook them to order), with a slightly crispy exterior and a fluffy interior.  They were good, but… come on.  Red bean.  Give it to me.