Stellar Ramen at Kyouka Ramen

Kyouka RamenLocation: 2222 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: https://kyouka.ca/

The Beaches is a bit of a culinary wasteland; there are a lot of restaurants along the main stretch of Queen, but almost none of them are particularly good.

There are exceptions, however.  One of them is Kyouka Ramen; it easily serves some of the best ramen in the city.

Kyouka Ramen

I ordered the namesake Kyouka ramen: “daily chicken + pork broth, kombu dashi, aromatic sesame oil, green chives, bean sprouts, pork + chicken chashu, egg, naruto fish cake, wood ear mushroom, chili paste.”

The broth — a mixture of chicken and pork — is delightful.  It’s got that rich roasty, meaty flavour that you want from a top-shelf bowl of ramen, and it’s got it in spades.  It’s really nicely seasoned, with a good level of salt that helps all the other flavours sing, but never feels overwhelming.  It looks a bit greasy, but it doesn’t feel oily at all.  It’s top notch stuff.

Kyouka Ramen

The rest of the bowl is hit and miss, but the soup itself is so good that it barely even matters.

The noodles were probably the biggest issue.  They were slightly overcooked, and didn’t quite have that satisfying chew that you’re looking for from a great bowl of ramen.

The pork chashu was tender and delicious, with a mild smoky flavour that was quite tasty.  The chicken, however, was slightly dry and a bit tasteless.

Kyouka Ramen

The egg was perfectly cooked, with a nice gooey but not runny yolk — but it was underseasoned and bland.  Everything else was quite good.

Still, that soup was tasty enough that the bowl would easily be in my top five in Toronto.  It’s so good.

Tasty (and Cheap!) Eats at Shanghai Dim Sum

Shanghai Dim SumLocation: 330 Highway 7, Richmond Hill
Website: http://www.shanghaidimsum.ca/

If you’re looking for a delicious and delightfully affordable meal, you could absolutely do worse than Shanghai Dim Sum.  If you show up before 11:00 AM (and you should definitely do this) you can order off a special early morning menu that includes an order of four soup dumplings for 99 cents.

Shanghai Dim Sum

99 cents!  Are they they best soup dumplings you’ll ever have?  No, but they’re quite tasty, and for the price, they’re outstanding.

Shanghai Dim Sum

Everything else was quite good as well.  We managed to try a generous amount of stuff (I was quite full by the end of the meal) — the total bill?  About 30 bucks for three people.  You can’t argue with that price.

Shanghai Dim Sum

The restaurant also has the distinction of serving what might be the garlickiest dish I’ve ever had.  The boiled pork with garlic paste features tender slices of pork belly doused in a sauce that’s effectively pure, uncooked garlic.  It was actually quite tasty, but that garlic taste lingered on my palate for a solid 24 hours.

Crispy Pork Gyros at Alexandros

AlexandrosLocation: 484 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
Website: http://alexandros.ca/

I knew as soon as I looked at my wrap from Alexandros that it was going to be tasty.  It’s a pork gyros wrap (chicken is also an option), and I mean, come on.  Look at that.  Look at those crispy bits.

Alexandros

And yeah, it was good.  Again: look at it.

It was maybe even too crispy?  They clearly waited a bit too long to carve it; some of the pieces were dried out.  But that’s a minor complaint.

Alexandros

Mostly, the meat is fairly tender, with a decent amount of fat, and — of course — a substantial amount of flavour and texture from the deeply browned exterior.

The bread wasn’t anything too special, nor was the tzatziki, but the pork was tasty enough to make the whole thing worth eating.

Tasty Miso Ramen at Ramen Isshin

Ramen IsshinLocation: 421 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.ramenisshin.com/

Ramen Isshin is a beloved ramen joint on College near Bathurst — so beloved, in fact, that my phone popped up with a notification out of the blue to recommend it to me, and told me there’s a 97 percent chance that I’ll like it.  97 percent!  It’s hard to argue with that level of certainty.

Ramen Isshin

And yeah, I liked it.  My phone was correct.

I went with the miso ramen: “Isshin Red Miso blend, wok fried pork, onions, bean sprouts, carrots, wood ear mushrooms, chives green onions, pork belly cha shu & thick twisty noodles.”

Ramen Isshin

It’s quite tasty.  The tonkotsu broth has a vibrant flavour that’s a bit one-note in its salty/savoury intensity, but still quite satisfying.  It’s not the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever had, but even average ramen is better than most other dishes.

Ramen Isshin

Aside from the broth, all of the add-ins are quite tasty: in particular, the bean sprouts add a nice fresh crunch that helps to balance the bowl’s richness, and the ground pork amps up its meaty flavour.

As for the noodles, they’re thick, chewy, and satisfying.  It’s a tasty bowl of soup.

Mind-Blowing Souvlaki at Mamakas Taverna

Mamakas TavernaLocation: 80 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://mamakas.ca/

Mamakas Taverna had a booth at the recent OssFest street festival on Ossington, serving up chicken and pork souvlaki.  It was almost improbably good.  Like, is the food at a street festival even allowed to be this good?  It was easily the best souvlaki I’ve ever had.

It’s simple enough — it features pita bread slathered with tsatziki, and topped with chunks of pork and tomatoes (onions are also an option, though I skipped those).

Mamakas Taverna

Every element here is amazing.  The pork is cooked on a spit over coals, giving it a nice smoky flavour.  It’s perfectly cooked and amazingly juicy.

They chop the pork up and toss it in some kind of magical, zesty sauce; little touches like this make all the difference.  The pork would have been perfectly delicious if they had just served it as-is, but that sauce kicks up its flavour, adds additional moisture, and elevates the wrap from good to great.

Mamakas Taverna

The creamy, mint-and-garlic-infused tzatziki is just as delicious as the pork, and complements it exceptionally well.  And the bread is the perfect vehicle — it’s fresh, a little bit chewy, and amazing.  The whole thing is exceptionally delicious.