Location: 249 Queen Street West, Toronto
Ikkousha Chicken Ramen shocked me. It’s a spin-off of Ikkousha Ramen, which specializes in porky tonkotsu ramen. I like that place a lot, but I find the flavour of the soup to be a bit one-note porky. It’s delicious, but not exactly my favourite ramen in the city.
Ikkousha Chicken Ramen, as you’d probably expect, serves a similar style of ramen, but made with chicken instead of pork.
I ordered the tori paitan ramen with an egg added on (a must). They have lighter choices on the menu, but the tori paitan is basically the chicken version of the signature tonkotsu at the original restaurant.
It’s very, very good. It has really delightful roast chicken flavour; it’s like a soup version of a great roast chicken, with such a rounded chicken flavour that it never feels one-note like the ramen at the original location.
The slices of ultra-tender chicken on top are great, and the egg was perfectly cooked, with a great flavour and a perfectly jammy yolk. The noodles were maybe a touch too soft, but that’s a minor complaint for what is otherwise one of the best bowls of ramen I’ve had in a while.
Location: 7353 Yonge Street, Thornhill
Cho Sun Ok does well. I showed up at around 6:00 on a Friday, which you’d think would be early enough to beat the crowds, but nope — the place was already packed. Always a good sign.
And yeah, it’s quite good. While they have a fairly extensive menu of Korean standbys, everyone seems to agree that the cold naengmyun noodles are the thing to order.
I went with the mool naengmyun: “Thin, chewy arrowroot noodles topped with our homemade red pepper sauce, sesame seed oil, pickled daikon, slivers of cucumber, a slice of pear and a hard-boiled egg in our flavourful beef based icy broth.”
The style of noodles here are so immensely chewy that they have to be cut with scissors before you start eating them, and combined with the zippy pepper sauce and the beefy, salty cold broth (not to mention the crunchy veggies), it’s a very satisfying dish. It’s easy enough to see why the place is so popular.
Location: 456 Queen Street West, Toronto
If you’re looking for a Japanese noodle fix and you want something a bit different from the now-ubiquitous ramen shops throughout the GTA, Raku is worth a shot.
Raku specializes in udon noodles — which are thicker and chewier than ramen noodles — that they serve either hot or cold. I went with one of the cold choices, though I started with the yaki nasu: “deep fried eggplant, spicy miso pork, quail egg.”
The waitress explained that you should mix this one up so that the egg combines with the eggplant and the pork. The eggplant is soft, but still has some texture, and works very well with the meaty ground pork. The miso gives it an addictively savoury flavour, and the egg cranks up its silky richness. It’s a tasty dish.
As for the star of the show, I went with the zaru: “chilled noodles, dipping sauce.”
It’s a really simple dish; the dipping sauce basically tastes like a milder soy sauce. It really comes alive once you jazz it up with the accompanying green onions, mushrooms, wasabi, and the quail egg (not to mention the little dish of shichimi togarashi — a zippy Japanese spice blend — on the table).
The noodles are really the star of the show here, and they’re great, with a hearty chewiness that stands up nicely to the flavourful sauce.
Location: 190 University Avenue, Toronto
Momofuku announced a few months ago that they’re shutting down their Toronto outpost later this month (with their location being replaced by Mott 32, a fancy Chinese restaurant chain). I figured one more visit to the Noodle Bar was in order to say goodbye.
I tried a couple of things. First up: the spicy rice cakes from their greatest hits menu, which the menu describes as “rice cakes seared on the plancha and tossed in a sauce with pork sausage, tofu, sichuan chili, gai lan, and finished with scallions.”
It’s a great dish; the rice cakes have a nice combo of crispy exterior and chewy interior, the flavourful sauce complements them perfectly, and the tasty pork sausage rounds things out. I can see why they consider this to be one of their greatest hits. It’s very good.
Since this is almost certainly my last ever visit to Momofuku (at least in Toronto), I had to get one of my favourites: the extremely spicy noodles. I feel like the level of extreme spice was slightly toned down from previous visits, and the noodles were a bit on the soft side, but this was otherwise a tasty (and still explosively spicy) dish.
Location: 4040 Creditview Road, Mississauga
I tried this place a few years ago when it was called Wonton Chai Noodle and liked it a lot. But they’ve got a new name, and I was curious to see if anything had changed. Back when I went, they were serving up some of the best wonton noodle soup in the GTA, and I wondered if that was still the case.
Spoiler alert: yes, it is absolutely still the case. It’s so good.
Those wontons are magical. They’re just as delicious as they were last time, with perfectly cooked shrimp and a flavour that keeps you coming back for more.
On this visit I ordered the bowl that also comes with beef brisket, and while the brisket was perfectly tender and tasty, the wontons are so good that it kind of feels like a waste of time. Just give me more of those wontons. Give me a million of those wontons. Let me drown in a swimming pool filled with those wontons.
I’m not sure if it’s because I ordered the brisket, but the soup was beefy instead of the usual chicken broth you’re expecting. But it was really tasty, so I can’t complain.
And the same fiery chili oil from my first visit is still on the table. This stuff is great; one spoonful is more than enough to give the bowl a serious kick.
Bonus: while it’s a bit pricier than it was when I visited in 2018 (seven bucks for a bowl back then, nine now, and ten for the version with brisket), it’s still delightfully affordable.
This place is kind of out there in Mississauga, but it’s totally worth the drive. It’s really, really good.