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.

Delicious Roti at My Roti Place

My Roti PlaceLocation: 406 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://myrotiplace.com/

I’ve heard basically nothing but good things about My Roti Place, a rapidly expanding chain that specializes in spice-packed roti.  I feared it might have been overhyped, but yeah: it’s very good.

My Roti Place

You can choose your roti, your meat, and your sauce; I went pretty basic with Mom’s Classic Curry with chicken, wrapped in a classic roti.  The spice level is also customizable, with mild, medium, serious, and extreme being options.  I figured extreme might be a bit too intense, so I went with serious.

My Roti Place

I guess should have gone with extreme; the “serious” level of heat turned out to be not-so-serious.  It was noticeably hot, but I’d put it on the upper level of mild.  A bit more spice would have been nice.

I may as well get my other complaint out of the way.  The chunks of chicken, though generous, are dry and leftovery.

My Roti Place

Everything else about this was fantastic.  The roti was nice and chewy, and complemented the vibrant curry perfectly.  And that curry was outstanding; I’m happy to overlook any number of minor complaints when the curry is that tasty.  I don’t care what you serve a curry that good with; it’s automatically going to be delicious.  The curry has an amazing depth of flavour that I couldn’t get enough of.  It’s serious business.

A Sandwich with Issues at Parka Food Co.

Parka Food Co.Location: 424 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.parkafoodco.com/

I don’t know what it is about “plant-based” restaurants serving sandwiches with overly dense buns, but I had that issue at Planta, I had it at Fresh, and now it’s happened again at Parka Food Co.

Is it the plant-based thing?  The lack of dairy?  Or is it a coincidence I’m reading too much into?  I don’t know.

(Also, whichever marketer came up with the term “plant-based” to make veganism sound more hip and healthy: kudos to you.  You have succeeded beyond your wildest dreams.)

Parka Food Co.

I tried the broccoli sandwich at Parka Food Co., which comes with “lightly battered broccoli, cashew cheese sauce, dill pickles, sauteed onions, roasted garlic, lettuce, parka aioli,” and it was mostly decent enough — but then there was that bun.

It’s all about Newton’s third law of motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The bun is so firm and dense that the force of you holding it and biting into it has nowhere to go but down into the components of the sandwich.  A normal bun would absorb some of that force, but not this one.

Instead, everything gets squished out within a couple of bites.  I had to eat the sandwich with a fork and knife.  It’s not a big deal, but I kinda wanted to eat my sandwich like a sandwich.

Parka Food Co.

Aside from that, it wasn’t bad.  The broccoli has a nice crispy, battered exterior, and the inside is perfectly cooked — it’s tender but not mushy, with a satisfying bite.

The cashew “cheese” sauce is basically just a thick, gooey paste, without a whole lot of cheese-like properties.  But it’s fine on the sandwich.

And the sweet aioli and the pickles do a nice job of cutting through the richness of the fried broccoli and the “cheese.”  It’s a pretty good sandwich… or at least it would be if you could eat it like a sandwich.

Delicious Bread Pudding and Pie at Bobbette and Belle

Bobbette and BelleLocation: 1121 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://bobbetteandbelle.com/

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that Bobbette and Belle is one of the best bakeries in the GTA.  Maybe the best?  It’s right up there, that’s for sure.

I tried the apple bread pudding on a recent visit, which they heat up and serve with a very tasty custard sauce.  I mean, look at it.  Do I even need to mention that it’s delicious?  Of course it’s delicious.

Bobbette and Belle

It’s crispy on its exterior and creamy inside, with a great custardy flavour.  The apples give it a nice zing, and the melty chocolate (yes, there’s melty chocolate in there, in case it didn’t already seem amazing enough) compliments it so well.  My only real complaint is that the apples are a bit crisp.  I know some people like their apples firm in pies and baked goods, but those people are wrong.  Tender apples 4 eva.

Still, the whole thing is so tasty that it just barely matters.

On another visit (yeah, I’ve been there a bunch, so what, wanna fight about it?) I tried the coconut banana cream pie, which was even better.

Bobbette and Belle

I love both banana cream pies and coconut cream pies, so I have no idea why it never occurred to me that you could combine the two, but you can and it’s amazing.  There’s also a layer of dulce de leche at the bottom of the pie, which gives the whole thing a rich, caramely flavour — and yet it’s not too sweet.  It’s perfect.

The crust is great too — crispy but not overly crunchy, with a nice buttery flavour and a mild sweetness that works amazingly well with the rest of the pie.  The whole thing is ridiculously good.

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.