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.

Fried Chicken Breakfast Sandwich at Porchetta & Co.

Porchetta and Co. - Exchange TowerLocation: 130 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://porchettaco.com/

The Exchange Tower location of Porchetta & Co. is a bit different from the other ones — it opens early, and it has a breakfast menu.  This menu includes a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich.

Fried chicken in the morning?  Yes please.

Sadly, it’s not quite as great as you’d hope, but it’s fried chicken, an egg, and gooey cheese.  Of course it tastes good.  How could that combo not taste good?

Porchetta and Co. - Exchange Tower

Like all of the fried chicken at Porchetta & Co., the chicken here is perfectly cooked, with a satisfyingly crispy exterior.  It’s dipped in hot honey, with a very strong emphasis on the honey.  It’s sweet.  I wish there were a bit more spice, and maybe some vinegar to cut the sweetness, because it’s tasty, but it’s a bit cloying.

The egg was overcooked, with a chalky yolk — but other than that, the sandwich was solid.  The cheese was nice and melty, and the buttery toasted English muffin was the perfect vehicle for the chicken, egg, and cheese.

Decent Breakfast Sandwiches at Egg Bae

Egg BaeLocation: 189 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://eggbae.ca/

I’ve been meaning to check out Egg Bae pretty much since it opened, though I’ll admit that the name kinda makes me cringe.  I can’t help but think about this moment from 30 Rock every time I see it.

But regardless of the name, I just can’t say no to a tasty breakfast sandwich.  Who can?

Egg Bae

The menu is admirably focused, with breakfast sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, and more breakfast sandwiches (they also have hash browns if you want something on the side).  I went with the eponymous Egg Bae: “Soft Scrambled Eggs, Chives, Muenster Cheese, Slow Cooked Onions, Bae Sauce.”

It’s decent enough, but alas, it didn’t quite knock my socks off.

Egg Bae

All of the components are really good (in particular, the eggs themselves are perfect — they’re amazingly soft and creamy with zero sliminess), and the hearty bun does a great job of holding up to the very gooey sandwich.

But all of the flavours and textures are basically on the exact same wavelength; it’s one-note soft, salty, and rich, and as good as it is, it gets monotonous.  It really needed some texture to balance out how soft everything is, and something acidic to cut the richness.  It’s not a large sandwich, and I was still sick of eating it towards the end.

Egg Bae

Certainly, Gold Standard, which serves my current favourite breakfast sandwich in the city, remains the… well, gold standard of breakfast sandwiches.

This will probably flush my credibility down the toilet, but I think even a McMuffin is better (I’m partial to the Egg and Sausage).  Yes, the quality of the ingredients at Egg Bae are clearly superior and the eggs are better prepared, but the McMuffin is just more satisfying.  The toasted English muffin gives it some much-needed textural contrast, and the flavours are better balanced.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Good Eats at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

Hokkaido Ramen SantoukaLocation: 515 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.santouka.co.jp/en

After ramen disappointments at Konjiki and Kinton, I was starting to worry that a really good bowl of ramen might be impossible to find in the city.

Well, here’s Santouka, riding in to save the day.  Their ramen certainly wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was a solid bowl of noodles.  I enjoyed it.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

They specialize in tonkotsu ramen, in which pork bones have been boiled down for hours until you get a rich and creamy broth.  They have shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso, or spicy miso.  I went with shio.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

It’s a quality bowl of soup.  The broth doesn’t quite have the magical complexity that you’ll find in the best versions of this dish, but it had a rich porky flavour (without the heavy greasiness that can bog down tonkotsu ramen), and a good amount of salt that doesn’t overwhelm.

The noodles were slightly thinner than I’d like, but they have a nice chewy bite.  They’re satisfying.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

The egg is an add-on, but it’s worth shelling out the extra cash; it’s nicely seasoned and perfectly-cooked, with a gooey but — and this is the key — not runny yolk.

Ultra-Chewy Noodles at Potato Noodle Soup of Bai

Potato Noodle Soup of BaiLocation: 4350 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Website: None

I’ve had a lot of noodles over the course of my life, but — until now — I don’t think I’d ever tried potato noodles.

As the name implies, potato noodles are made with potato starch, which gives them a much, much chewier consistency than the norm.

Though I’ve heard good things about the cold noodles Potato Noodle Soup of Bai, I decided to go with the noodle soup — mostly because “noodle soup” is right there in the name.

Potato Noodle Soup of Bai

I got the plain potato noodle soup, which comes with noodles, meatballs, fish balls, half an egg, and various odds and ends in a fiery broth.

The noodles are really interesting.  There’s a Korean dish called jjolmyeon that features noodles that are so incredibly chewy you have to cut them with scissors before you start eating.  These kind of reminded me of a thicker, slightly less chewy version of those.

Potato Noodle Soup of Bai

The broth was a bit saltier than I’d like, but it was otherwise quite tasty, with a spicy kick and an almost creamy richness that you only get from a stock that’s been simmered for a long, long time.

The whole thing was fairly tasty, though with Sun’s Kitchen just a few steps away, I don’t know that I’d ever eat here again.