I tend not to mention my travels too often on this blog, because:
- That would get insufferable fast.
- It’s generally not fair to compare a version of a dish in Toronto to its legit counterpoint thousands of miles away. There are so many reasons why it’s hard to perfectly replicate a dish outside of its home country, from the availability of ingredients to the pool of local chefs. That’s not to mention the psychological aspect; there’s something about being in a place that makes the food taste better. Of course the croissant you just had in Toronto isn’t as good as the one from the charming little bakery in Paris. That would be an uphill battle in so many ways.
However, in this case it can’t be helped; I’ve eaten the ramen at the original location of Hakata Ikkousha Ramen in Fukuoka, so it’s impossible for me not to make a very direct comparison.
Ikkousha serves Hakata ramen, a particularly rich variety of tonkatsu ramen that’s served with ultra-thin noodles.
Shockingly enough, the bowl they’re serving here is basically indistinguishable from the one I had in Fukuoka. I didn’t love it there and I don’t love it here, but the quality is about the same.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s quite tasty. But it’s a bit one-note in its porky intensity. Still, it has a somewhat roasty flavour that keeps things interesting.
The secret to this type of ramen (unless it’s exceptional, and this place isn’t exceptional) are the condiments. Particularly: pickled ginger and spicy pickled mustard leaf. Adding a generous amount of both of these condiments gives the bowl a nice zippiness that cuts through the rich broth quite nicely.
The rest of the bowl is (mostly) quite good. The egg is a $2 add-on, but it’s totally worth it; it’s perfectly cooked and very flavourful. The noodles, despite being very thin, have a nice bite to them and compliment the creamy soup perfectly. And the chashu was nice and tender, though it did have a mildly gamy/leftovery flavour.