Location: 596 College Street, Toronto
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: Stackt Market (28 Bathurst Street, Toronto)
Momofuku Noodle Bar is currently doing a pop-up at Stackt Market; it’s outdoors and the menu is limited, but it was my first time eating at a restaurant with a waitress and the whole rigmarole since last March (which, coincidentally enough, was also at the Noodle Bar).
I had the Chilled Spicy Noodles, which the menu describes as “ramen noodles, black bean sauce, sichuan beef, candy cashew.”
My delight at being back at a restaurant (or in a restaurant-ish setting, at least) might be colouring my opinion here, but man it was good.
It’s an explosion of flavour — it’s salty, it’s savoury, it’s meaty, it’s sweet — but everything complements each other so well. And that black bean sauce is a taste bonanza; it’s basically like a really great hoisin sauce, but with pops of intense flavour from the beans themselves (I don’t know what they do to the beans to get them to taste almost cheese-like, but it’s magical).
It’s served cold, which only intensifies the flavour, and the chewy ramen noodles are the perfect vehicle to bring it all together. It’s a tasty dish.