Middling Taiyaki at Sukoshi Mart

Sukoshi MartLocation: 160 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.sukoshimart.com/

Sukoshi Mart is a little Japanese convenience store in Kensington Market that sells hard-to-find Japanese goods.  They also sell freshly-made taiyaki, a waffle-like dessert that’s traditionally filled with either red bean or custard.

Sukoshi Mart

I like this place.  If you’re looking for Japanese snacks or candy, it’s worth a visit.

The taiyaki, on the other hand?  Not so much.

Sukoshi Mart

It’s fine.  It’s perfectly edible, but the exterior is dense and doughy, and the red bean is overly sweet.  It’s also misshapen and haphazard, so it doesn’t even have the (usually) delightful visual component.  It’s not the best.

Tasty Japanese Cream Buns at Hattendo Cafe

Hattendo CafeLocation: 13 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.hattendo.ca/

One of the things that takes some getting used to in Asia is that some countries there consider white bread to essentially be a dessert.  More than once, I’ve gone to a convenience store and bought what appears to be a Twinkie-esque pastry, only to realize that it’s just a plain white bun, like a hot dog bun.

Hattendo Cafe

Which is to say that if you’ve never had the type of Japanese cream bun they serve at Hattendo, you might be surprised to discover that the bun itself is basically just a soft, fluffy hamburger bun.  Once you get used to it, however, it’s quite tasty.

I tried three: custard, chocolate, and red bean.  The bun itself is quite nice.  It’s soft, fluffly, and just a little bit sweet.

Hattendo Cafe

The custard was my least favourite of the three flavours.  It was nice and creamy, but the flavour was middling; there just wasn’t much to it.

The chocolate was much better, with a pronounced cocoa-infused flavour and a satisfyingly restrained level of sweetness.

Hattendo Cafe

The red bean was the best of the three.  If you normally don’t like beany sweets, this might just be the perfect gateway dessert — it’s super creamy and tasty, with a really nice balance between the creamy custard and the sweet red beans.

Tasty Cheese Tarts at Pablo

PabloLocation: 1800 Sheppard Avenue East, North York (inside Fairview Mall)
Website: https://pablocanada.com/

It’s hard to go wrong with a Japanese cheese tart.  It’s basically just a little cheesecake, and it’s delicious.  If you’re a cheesecake fan, there’s absolutely no reason cheese tarts shouldn’t be in your life.

Pablo

The version they sell at Pablo might not be the best one I’ve ever had, but it’s pretty darn tasty.

The filling is sweet but not too sweet, with a rich cheesecake flavour.  I wish it had been a bit creamier, but it’s quite good.

Pablo

The crust could have been a bit more crisp, but again, it’s very good: it’s nice and buttery, with an almost shortbread-like flavour.  The crispy crust and the creamy cheesecake is a fairly irresistible combo.

Middling Ramen at Sansotei Ramen

Santosei RamenLocation: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (inside Square One)
Websitehttps://www.sansotei.com/

Sometimes, I just don’t have all that much to say about a particular dish.  When something is fine — not particularly good, but not particularly bad — it can be difficult to muster up all that much enthusiasm to write about it.

Santosei Ramen

The tonkotsu ramen at Santosei is one of those dishes.  The only exceptional thing about it is how exceptionally middle-of-the-road it is.

Santosei Ramen

There are some things about it that I liked, however.  You can choose thick or thin noodles — I went with thick, and they were chewy and satisfying.  And the broth has a rich porkiness that’s pretty tasty.  But it’s a bit one-note in its flavour, and it’s intensely salty.

The chasu wasn’t bad, but I think it needed to cook for slightly longer, as it had a vaguely rubbery texture.   The egg was nice, but ice cold.

Santosei Ramen

Even by the standards of ramen in Toronto, what they’re serving at Santosei is quite ho-hum.  But…  I don’t know.  It’s fine, I guess?

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.