Classic Pork Ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar

Momofuku Noodle BarLocation: 190 University Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://noodlebar-toronto.momofuku.com/

Apparently Momofuku has been open in Toronto for eight years.  I was under the impression that it was more like three or four years, which doesn’t seem like a huge difference but kind of shook me to my core.

Well, maybe that’s overstating it, but seriously: where does the time go?  It’s like one second you can comfortably call yourself young, then the next second you realize that you’re practically middle-aged, and when the hell did that happen??

But I digress.  We’re talkin’ about noodles here.

Momofuku Noodle Bar

I tried the classic bowl of pork ramen at Momofuku back when it opened, and my recollection is that it was tasty enough, but nothing particularly special.

It’s better than I remembered.  I don’t think anyone is going to call it the best ramen in the city, but it’s a top notch bowl of noodle soup.

The broth is quite tasty, with a nice porky flavour.  It comes with a scoop of sweet chili paste on top; the bowl really gets going once you mix that in.  It adds a nice sweet/savoury punch that does a great job of complementing the porkiness of the broth.

Momofuku Noodle Bar

The noodles are nice and chewy, and the toppings are all great — in particular, the delightfully fatty thick-cut chashu is super tender, and the egg (which is a Japanese-style soft-boiled egg — a.k.a. onsen tamago — rather than a standard ramen egg) adds a silky richness that compliments the slightly sweet broth quite well.

Momofuku Noodle Bar

I tried a couple of other things.  There was the fried calamari, which is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, with a tasty mayo-based dipping sauce on the side.  And it’s hard to go to Momofuku and not get one of their buns; I tried the shiitake buns, which feature meaty mushrooms tossed in hoisin sauce.  Hoisin is one of those things that could make basically anything taste good, so yeah, it was good.

Subtle, Tasty Ramen at Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Hakata Shoryuken RamenLocation: 225 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.hakatashoryuken.com/

A lot of times, the broth in a bowl of Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen can be overwhelmingly porky.  The one-note pork flavour can get a bit wearying.

I’m normally not a big condiments guy — I’ll just eat it as it comes — but with this type of ramen, condiments tend to be necessary.  In particular, pickled ginger does a good job of adding some vibrancy and cutting through the soup’s richness.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Oddly, however, the Hakata ramen at Hakata Shoryuken Ramen has the opposite problem; the flavour isn’t in-your-face at all.  It’s surprisingly mellow.

It’s unexpectedly low-key, but quite tasty.  The soup is nice and creamy, and though the porky flavour is subtle, it’s definitely there.  It’s not going to knock anyone’s socks off, but it’s a pleasant bowl of soup.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

The pickled ginger was still necessary, however — it gave the soup some welcome pops of flavour.  It’s a fifty cent add-on, but it’s worth ordering.

The egg was another add-on ($1.50), and it wasn’t great.  It was bland, and the texture was just odd — it was somewhere between an onsen tamago and a traditional ramen egg, and it wasn’t as good as either.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Everything else was solid.  The chashu, in particular, was tender, tasty, and perfectly fatty.  The noodles were slightly too soft, but otherwise got the job done.

Sad Disappointment at Crazy Crepes

Crazy CrepesLocation: 366 Church Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.crazycrepescanada.com/

Sometimes, you know you’re in trouble before you even take a bite.  This was definitely the case at Crazy Crepes, a Japanese chain that serves sweet and savoury crepes.

It was game over before it even began; as soon as I ordered my crepe, the woman behind the counter went for a big pile of pre-made crepes and started putting mine together.

Crazy Crepes

I’m not sure why, but crepes are one of those foods that deteriorate in quality within minutes of being made.  Fresh crepes are delicious; old crepes are a pale imitation of their previous selves.

I’m sorry, but when it comes to crepes: make it fresh or GTFO.  Yes, I’ll wait.  Get out of here with that dry, rubbery garbage.

Crazy Crepes

I ordered the Strawberry & Kiwi Fresh Cream crepe, which the menu notes is one of their signature creations, and of course, it never had a chance.  The kiwi and strawberries were both pretty sour, but if the crepe had been really good, it still could have been tasty.  Alas.

Tasty Ramen at Ramen Raijin

Ramen RaijinLocation: 24 Wellesley Street, Toronto
Website: http://www.zakkushi.com/raijin/

Ramen Raijin is interesting; it’s mostly a standard ramen joint, but then there’s the little Japanese convenience store of sorts near the front that sells candy, instant noodles, and other Japanese goodies.  That’s not to mention pre-made stuff like sushi and onigiri.  It’s a neat addition that sets the restaurant apart.

Ramen Raijin

The restaurant itself serves a decent variety of ramen styles; the waitress told me that the Gyokai Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen and the Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen are their specialties.

I went with Gyokai, which the menu describes as “seafood flavour pork broth ramen topped with pork shoulder chashu, bamboo shoots, nori seaweed, bean shoots and green onion.”

Ramen Raijin

It’s a tasty bowl of soup, though the flavour is a tad overwhelming; I could have used maybe like 15 percent less flavour?  It’s pretty in-your-face.

The first thing that hits you is a salty, savoury punch, with a wallop of toasted garlic.  The pork and the seafood are next, with a nice balance of savoury and seafoody notes.  It’s incredibly assertive, but it’s tasty.

Ramen Raijin

Aside from the flavour, the broth is rich, creamy, and satisfying.  It’s a bit greasy, but that’s a minor complaint.

The medium thick noodles are nice and chewy, and suit the rich soup perfectly.

Ramen Raijin

My only real issue here are a couple of the add-ins.  The chashu is nice and tender, but has a leftovery flavour.  And the egg (which costs extra, and which you can safely skip) was undercooked and tasteless; the yolk was runny, and if it was seasoned at all, I couldn’t taste it (though it is possible that its flavour was overwhelmed by the aggressively salty soup).

Empty Instagram Bait at Taiyaki NYC

Taiyaki NYCLocation: 128 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: https://taiyakinyc.com/

Taiyaki NYC is basically the same concept as Sukoi Desserts, in which a taiyaki (a Japanese waffle-like dessert in the shape of a fish) is filled with ice cream and other toppings.

It’s a dessert that’s tailor-made for Instagram; in fact, Taiyaki NYC even has a portion of their wall made entirely of flowers to make your photo really pop.  I just wish they put in half as much effort to make the food pop.

It’s a dessert I should love.  Ice cream is great.  Taiyaki is great.  Cramming those two things together should be a home run.  And yet…

Taiyaki NYC

I went with the Mangonificient, which is supposedly one of their most popular flavours — it features a mango/vanilla swirl inside a custard taiyaki.

The ice cream is the biggest issue.  It’s not good — it has a decent mango flavour, but it’s icy and thin.  It’s topped with a cookie and a few tiny cubes of tasteless mochi on a stick.  It looks impressive, but the taste is another story.

Taiyaki NYC

I will say, however, that the taiyaki itself is actually quite good.  It’s nice and fresh, with a crispy exterior and a perfectly cakey/fluffy interior.   They sell them on their own, which is clearly the thing to order.  It probably won’t be much of a hit on social media, though, so what’s the point, right?