Pho Ngoc Yen is a Hidden Gem

Pho Ngoc Yen
Location
: 1090 Kamato Road, Mississauga
Website: https://sites.google.com/orderup.ai/ngocyenrestaurant/home

Pho Ngoc Yen is one of those restaurants that must rely pretty much entirely on word of mouth; hidden away in an industrial neighbourhood in Mississauga, it’s basically in the middle of nowhere.  The odds of you stumbling onto it are quite miniscule.

Pho Ngoc Yen

But yeah, it’s definitely got the word of mouth that it needs, and I can see why — it’s great.

Pho Ngoc Yen

I got the Pho Ngoc Yen Dac Biet, which the menu describes as “NY’s special: rare beef, beef balls and boneless beef shank with rice noodles.”

Pho Ngoc Yen

It’s a great bowl of pho.  The generous amount of meat is tender and tasty, and the broth is beefy, richly spiced, and thoroughly delicious.  The noodles were slightly on the soft side, and my bowl was missing the beef balls, but the broth and the beef were both so tasty that this never felt like a big issue.

Chicken Tan Tan Ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar

Momofuku Noodle BarLocation190 University Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://noodlebar-toronto.momofuku.com/

The chicken tan tan ramen at Momofuku is a taste explosion.  Its flavour is so incredibly assertive that it seems like it should be overbearing, but it’s not.  It’s so good.

The broth is zesty and creamy and rich, with a roasty sesame flavour and a mild nuttiness (not to mention a bit of a spicy kick) that’s fairly irresistible.  It’s absolutely not subtle, but it totally works.

Momofuku Noodle Bar

It’s topped with a green onions, a whole bunch of tasty ground chicken, and a silky sous vide egg that basically just melts into the soup and makes it even richer.  Add the chewy noodles into the mix, and you’ve got a seriously tasty bowl.

Momofuku Noodle Bar

I also tried the fried brussels sprouts (“fish sauce, yuzu, chili, mint”), which are nice and crispy and feature a great balance of flavours — the fish sauce is the first thing you notice, but it’s also sweet and zippy in a way that’s really satisfying.  Brussels sprouts tends to be a divisive vegetable, but I dare anyone to try this and deny that it’s delicious.

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.

Oji Seichi Might Just Serve the Best Ramen in the City

Oji SeichiLocation: 354 Broadview Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.ojiseichi.com/

Oji Seichi is the brainchild of Mitch Bates; he was previously the chef at Grey Gardens and the sadly defunct Momofuku Shoto, and in case those credits aren’t enough to tell you that the guy knows what he’s doing, let me tell you: the guy knows what he’s doing.  Based on my recent visit, the ramen at Oji Seichi might just be the best in the city?  It’s right up there, that’s for sure.

The menu also features an assortment of sandwiches, and I’m sure those are delicious too (how could they not be, given the quality of the ramen?), but trust me — you need to get the ramen.

Oji Seichi

The classic ramen features a broth made with chicken, pork, and seafood (a vegetarian option is also available) and comes in either shio or shoyu.  I got shio, and holy moly it was so good.

The broth is (mostly) perfect.  It’s a bit too greasy (your lips feel slick with grease almost immediately), but other than that, it’s outstanding.   It’s lighter than the rich tonkotsu style of ramen that’s so common in the GTA, but it’s absolutely exploding with flavour.  It’s got a deep roasty/meaty flavour that’s abundantly satisfying, with a subtle seafoody kick that hums along in the background without ever calling attention to itself.  It’s also lightly smoky, but again, in a way that complements all the other flavours in the bowl so well.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the best bowls of ramen have this magical ability to keep revealing something new with each mouthful, and this is definitely that.  The flavours are not subtle, but it absolutely never feels one-note or tiresome.

Oji Seichi

They make their noodles in house, and like the rest of the bowl, they’re top-notch; they’re perfectly chewy and have a very subtle, almost nutty flavour.  So good.

The toppings are outstanding, too.  The egg looks like it might be a bit undercooked in the photo, but trust me: it’s great.  Perfectly jammy yolk, super flavourful — my only complaint is that the bowl comes with half an egg and I needed about a million of them.

And the chashu, with its silky, melt-in-your-mouth texture, is even better.  They finish it on the grill to give it a smoky flavour, and good god I want to dive into a swimming pool filled with the stuff like Scrooge McDuck but with pork belly instead of money.  Crazy good.

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.