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.

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?

A Unique Japanese Dessert at HCafe

HCafeLocation: 4750 Yonge Street – Unit 119, North York
Websitehttps://www.hcafecanada.com/

I’ve mentioned before that the Japanese Netflix TV show, Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman (about a Japanese businessman who’s obsessed with dessert), is pretty much the best.  It’s frequently hilarious and features some mesmerizing food porn, not to mention enough slickly-shot footage of Tokyo to make you want to get on the next flight.  It’s great.

He eats at least one dessert per episode, and it all looks amazing.  Sadly, much of it is really difficult (if not impossible) to find in the GTA.

HCafe

One of the desserts he eats is called ohagi, and you can actually find it at HCafe, a tiny little Japanese dessert shop near Yonge and Sheppard.

It’s pretty unique.  It features a ball of chewy rice (a mix of glutinous rice and regular rice) surrounded by a sweet red bean paste.

HCafe

It’s not quite like any dessert I’ve ever had — it’s chewy, almost like mochi, but with a coarser texture thanks to the grains of rice.  The sweetness is very subtle, and though the flavour is mostly beany, there’s an underlying fruitiness.

It’s odd, but also surprisingly delicious.  If you like mochi, this hits a lot of the same notes.

Delicious Mochi at Sasaki Fine Pastry

Sasaki Fine PastryLocation: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Websitehttps://www.instagram.com/sasakifinepastry/

Sasaki Fine Pastry is the latest gem I’ve discovered thanks to the inimitable Suresh Doss, who specializes in sussing out the best non-Western eats in the city, usually out in the ‘burbs.  If you’re on Twitter and you’re not following him, I don’t even know what you’re doing with your life.

Sasaki Fine Pastry

Sasaki specializes in daifuku, a Japanese dessert in which soft, chewy mochi is stuffed with various sweet fillings.  On this particular visit they had seven flavours available; I tried mango cream, strawberry cream, yuzu cream, and sesame cream.

It’s easily the best mochi I’ve ever had.  I like mochi, but it can sometimes be a little too gummy.  But the version here had a delightfully delicate chew that almost melts in your mouth.

Sasaki Fine Pastry

The subtly sweet, creamy fillings were all great, though the strawberry — which featured a mixture of strawberry cream and sweet red bean filling — was the highlight.

Sasaki Fine Pastry

I also tried the red bean and cream doriyaki, which features a filling of sweet red bean and whipped cream that’s sandwiched between two little pancakes.  Like the daifuki, this was super fresh, subtly sweet, and extremely delicious.