Stellar Ramen at Kyouka Ramen

Kyouka RamenLocation: 2222 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: https://kyouka.ca/

The Beaches is a bit of a culinary wasteland; there are a lot of restaurants along the main stretch of Queen, but almost none of them are particularly good.

There are exceptions, however.  One of them is Kyouka Ramen; it easily serves some of the best ramen in the city.

Kyouka Ramen

I ordered the namesake Kyouka ramen: “daily chicken + pork broth, kombu dashi, aromatic sesame oil, green chives, bean sprouts, pork + chicken chashu, egg, naruto fish cake, wood ear mushroom, chili paste.”

The broth — a mixture of chicken and pork — is delightful.  It’s got that rich roasty, meaty flavour that you want from a top-shelf bowl of ramen, and it’s got it in spades.  It’s really nicely seasoned, with a good level of salt that helps all the other flavours sing, but never feels overwhelming.  It looks a bit greasy, but it doesn’t feel oily at all.  It’s top notch stuff.

Kyouka Ramen

The rest of the bowl is hit and miss, but the soup itself is so good that it barely even matters.

The noodles were probably the biggest issue.  They were slightly overcooked, and didn’t quite have that satisfying chew that you’re looking for from a great bowl of ramen.

The pork chashu was tender and delicious, with a mild smoky flavour that was quite tasty.  The chicken, however, was slightly dry and a bit tasteless.

Kyouka Ramen

The egg was perfectly cooked, with a nice gooey but not runny yolk — but it was underseasoned and bland.  Everything else was quite good.

Still, that soup was tasty enough that the bowl would easily be in my top five in Toronto.  It’s so good.

White Lily Diner Makes a Mean Meatloaf Sandwich

White Lily DinerLocation: 678 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://whitelilydiner.ca/

At this point, I’ve eaten several of the sandwiches from Toronto Life’s list of the best in the city.  That’s a solid list.  And the meatloaf sandwich from White Lily Diner (Toronto Life’s 12th best sandwich) is absolutely outstanding.

White Lily Diner

The sandwich features a thick slice of meatloaf, mayo, a sweet tomato sauce, and pickles.  An egg is an optional surcharge, but of course you need to get the egg.  Every sandwich is improved by the addition of a fried egg with a gooey yolk.  That’s just science.

Oh, and did I mention that it also comes with a bowl of gravy on the side for dipping?  Because it does, and it’s glorious.

White Lily Diner

It’s an incredibly rich sandwich — there’s the butter-laden toast (which they make in house, and which is amazing), the weighty slice of meatloaf, the fried egg, and of course, the gravy.  That sandwich doesn’t take any prisoners.  It’s not kidding around.

It’s also delicious.  The meatloaf is perfectly spiced while still retaining a nice beefy flavour.  It has a great texture, not to mention a nice crispy exterior from the griddle.  The rich gravy only amps up the beefy flavour.

White Lily Diner

But it’s perfectly balanced; the pickles and the sweet tomato sauce ensure that it never feels one-note rich.

It comes with a salad on the side (and trust me, you don’t need anything heavier than that to accompany this sandwich) which is dressed with a simple vinaigrette; it works as a nice counterpoint to the very rich sandwich.

Another Decent Breakfast Sandwich at Egg Bae

Egg BaeLocation189 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://eggbae.ca/

I think it’s safe to say that Egg Bae isn’t for me.  I think it’s fine — actually, it’s better than fine.  All of their sandwiches use high quality ingredients that are prepared well; they’re just not particularly to my taste.

The last sandwich I tried — the eponymous Egg Bae — was tasty enough, but I found it to be one-note soft and rich.

Egg Bae

This time, I went with a pick from Toronto Life’s list of the 25 best sandwiches in the city: the Eh Bae Bae (“Soft Scrambled Eggs, Sweet and Spicy Bacon, Muenster Cheese, Tomato, Arugula, Pickled Shallots, Bae Sauce”).

Once again, the individual components are all top-notch; the sweet bun is fresh and fluffy, the bacon is meaty and satisfying, the Muenster is nice and gooey, and the eggs are ultra creamy and luxurious.

Egg Bae

But while this sandwich actually has a bit more balance from the pickled shallots, it needs a lot more; it’s incredibly rich.  It does have some texture thanks to the bacon and the veggies, but it’s still mostly just soft overload.

That’s not to mention that between the glazed bacon and the very sweet bun, it’s an intensely sweet sandwich.

Still, it’s enjoyable enough — but considering the quality of the ingredients, it could be so much better.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim HortonsLocation: 2960 South Sheridan Way, Oakville
Website: https://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/index.php

The fake meat gold rush continues; I think it’s safe to say that, before long, all of the fast food chains will have imitation meats from places like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods on their menus.

Tim Hortons is the latest, with three new breakfast sandwiches featuring sausage that looks and tastes like sausage — but isn’t.

I tried the Beyond Meat burger from A&W last summer, and I thought it vaguely approximated real meat, but wasn’t going to fool anyone.

The Beyond Sausage at Tim Hortons is much more convincing.

I got the Egg and Cheese, which features a Beyond Sausage patty, an omelette patty, and processed cheese on an English muffin.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

The sausage certainly isn’t great, but it convincingly tastes like an actual sausage — a mediocre sausage, mind you, but if I hadn’t known it was fake meat, I wouldn’t have guessed.  That’s impressive.

(Of course, emulating a lousy, ultra-processed sausage is much, much easier than emulating one that actually tastes good, but one step at a time, I guess?)

There was something about the spicing that I found vaguely unappealing, and the flavour was particularly aggressive, presumably to cover up the lack of a meaty flavour.  But for the most part, it’s decent enough.

The texture is dead-on.  Unlike the Beyond Meat burger I had at A&W, it’s not mushy at all.  It’s a bit dry, and no one’s going to confuse it for a decent quality sausage, but the texture is basically identical to the type of mediocre sausage you’ll find at a place like Tim Hortons.  I was surprised at how close it got.

Otherwise, the sandwich was typical Tim Hortons, which is to say it was pretty lousy — the cheese was barely melted, the omelette was rubbery, and the English muffin was dense and dry.

Rich, Chickeny Ramen at Touhenboku Ramen

Touhenboku RamenLocation: 2459 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.touhenboku.ca/

The ramen at Touhenboku is a little bit different than the norm.  Most of the ramen shops in Toronto serve tonkotsu-style ramen, in which pork bones are boiled for hours and hours until you wind up with a very rich, porky broth.

Touhenboku, on the other hand, subs out the pork for chicken, and yet still manages to retain that intense richness that you associate with tonkotsu.

Touhenboku Ramen

If your average bowl of chicken soup is the soup equivalent of white meat (lighter, with a more restrained flavour) then what they’re serving at Touhenboku is more like dark meat, with a really intense flavour and a fattier texture.

In fact, the soup might be a bit too fatty, with a heavy oiliness that’s borderline too much.  I’m certainly not going to complain about a very rich bowl of ramen, but this one was slightly too greasy.

Touhenboku Ramen

I ordered the sea salt ramen (a.k.a. shio ramen) from the “Tomo’s favourite” section of the menu.  It’s a pretty standard bowl, with the usual assortment of veggies, an egg, and chasu.

It’s (mostly) quite good.  The noodles were a bit too thin (thick is also an option, however — I think that’s the one to go with), and the flavour was slightly one-note in its rich chickeniness (chickeniness… that’s a word, right?), but it was a satisfying bowl of soup.

Touhenboku Ramen

Most notably, the very intense chicken flavour is pretty remarkable, and the thinly sliced chasu was ultra-tender and perfectly seasoned, with a great porky flavour.  The egg was also perfectly cooked, with a great gooey yolk, so there’s definitely more good here than bad.