An Onion Assault at Tondou Ramen

Tondou RamenLocation: 596 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.tondouramentoronto.com/

I noticed after the fact that Tondou Ramen bills itself as “the one and only Okinawan restaurant in Toronto.”  That being the case, I probably should have ordered the Okinawa soba instead of the shio ramen.  Oh well.

Tondou Ramen

Still, the shio ramen was mostly quite tasty, with a fairly large caveat that, to be fair, mostly applies to me and weirdos like me.  Specifically: people who hate raw onion.

Tondou Ramen

I’m a card-carrying raw onion hater, so you can take all of my opinions on the matter with a grain of salt, but the ramen here was a bit much.  It’s topped with the usual green onion (which I’m normally okay with) along with a generous amount of sliced white onions, and it’s onion overload.

Tondou Ramen

The problem is that the soup itself, which the menu describes as a “light chicken broth,” has such a subtle flavour that it can’t help but be overwhelmed by the raw onion assault.  It’s all you can taste.  It completely overpowers the delicate broth.

Tondou Ramen

Still, everything else about the bowl was quite good, particularly the perfectly chewy fresh noodles.

I also tried the takoyaki (A.K.A. octopus balls), which was very good; oddly, the balls are deep fried (is that an Okinawan thing?), which gives them a delightfully crisp exterior.

A Tasty Bowl at Musoshin Ramen

Musoshin RamenLocation: 9 Boustead Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.musoshin.com/

I think ramen might be my favourite dish of all time, which means the last year and change has been a long, sad, ramenless slog.

(Yes, there is instant ramen, but that’s not even remotely the same.  You could also make it yourself, but that’s an all day project and it’s never going to be as good as what you can get at even a half-decent ramen shop.)

Musoshin Ramen

Well, ramen is finally back in my life, and, of course, it’s delightful.  Musoshin is actually a small Japanese ramen chain (they have three locations in Kyoto) that recently opened in Toronto, and yeah, it’s good.

I started with the karaage, which features very crispy pieces of juicy boneless chicken thigh; this was maybe slightly too salty, but was otherwise packed with flavour and was top-notch fried chicken.

Musoshin Ramen

Next up was the ramen: I went with the namesake Musoshin Ramen, which features a porky tonkotsu broth — it has a very rich, roasty flavour with a lot going on (is it made with seafood, too?  Because it definitely has some subtle seafoody notes).  It borders on being a bit overwhelming in its flavour, but it never crosses that line.  It’s very tasty.

Musoshin Ramen

The noodles were quite good, too, with a springy texture and a satisfying level of thickness.  The egg costs extra, but it’s nice and creamy and worth the two dollar surcharge.

The chashu, on the other hand, is the bowl’s clear weak spot.  It was pretty dry and had a very pronounced gamy, leftovery flavour.  Everything else is delicious enough that this doesn’t really matter, but it’s a bummer nonetheless.

Musoshin Ramen

I had the strawberry mochi for dessert, and it was the perfect way to end the meal.  Featuring a full strawberry surrounded by sweet red bean paste with a chewy mochi wrapper, this was a delightful mix of chewy and creamy with a perfect level of sweetness.

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).