Delicious Ramen at Ryu’s Noodle Bar

Ryus Noodle BarLocation: 786 Broadview Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://ryusnoodlebar.com/

A couple of months ago, Ryu’s Noodle Bar made a bunch of headlines by being one of only two non-Japanese ramen joints invited to set up a stall in the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum in Japan.

Obviously, a visit was inevitable.

(And yes, technically the place is called Ryus Noodle Bar, without the apostrophe, but I’m not spelling it that way.  Get out of here with that.)

Ryus Noodle Bar

Their specialty is “RYUS rich shio,” which is similar to the porky tonkotsu style of ramen that’s so popular in Toronto, but made with chicken instead of pork.

It’s basically Touhenboku, but better (sorry, Touhenboku, but you’ve been bested).

The chicken-based broth at Ryu’s is fairly similar to what they’re serving at Touhenboku, but with a richer consistency and a more satisfying depth of flavour.

Ryus Noodle Bar

All the issues I had with Touhenboku — the one-note flavour and the greasy consistency — are completely absent here.  Yes, the bowl has an intense chicken flavour, but there’s enough going on that you never get sick of it.  Once you hit the bottom of the bowl, you’re sad to see it end.

And despite its incredible richness, there’s absolutely no greasiness.

I can’t say enough about the flavour — it’s basically like the best roast chicken that you’ve ever had, but condensed down into a soup.

Ryus Noodle Bar

The noodles and toppings are great, too.  It’s topped with a slice of chicken along with the typical chasu (which is delicious); the chicken is white meat, but it’s cooked perfectly, making it incredibly tender.

They suggest you add an egg to the bowl, which is an additional charge, but totally worth it.  The yolk is creamy, custardy, and perfect.  I wish it were a little bit hotter (it was actually quite cold, which is maybe my only significant complaint about the whole bowl), but that’s a minor issue.

Suffice it to say, Ryu’s is a very, very strong contender for the best bowl of ramen in the city.  It’s so good.

The Porchetta at Porchetta & Co.: Still Great

Porchetta & Co.Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://porchettaco.com/

Though I’m a big fan of the porchetta sandwich at Porchetta & Co., my tendency is to get tempted by the various fried chicken sandwich specials.  It’s been ages since I’ve had the good old plain porchetta sandwich.

Porchetta & Co.

I was afraid it might have gone downhill.  It’s an outstanding sandwich, but many successful restaurants have a hard time maintaining consistency over the years, and eventually become a victim of their own success.  This is especially true once expansion becomes a factor.

Well, I’m happy to say that this doesn’t seem to be an issue here.  The porchetta sandwich: still outstanding.

Porchetta & Co.

I didn’t see any crackling when I opened it up, which concerned me.  But I guess it was all hiding under the meat, because there was a pretty good amount.  (I could have used more, but then it’s basically impossible to get enough crackling.  I could have an all-crackling sandwich, and I’d still be like “that was pretty good, but it needed more crackling.”)

I also thought the sandwich looked a little lean on first inspection, but again, it was all hiding in there; the meat was super tender, with a perfect amount of tasty fat interspersed throughout.

Porchetta & Co.

It’s a seriously, seriously great sandwich.  The crispy, fluffy bun is as perfect as ever, and the pork itself is still top-notch.  The spicing is subtle compared to some porchetta, but there’s more than enough for it to pack some serious flavour.  That’s not to mention that the milder seasoning allows the natural flavour of the pork to really shine through.

Porchetta & Co.

You can get all kinds of toppings, if you want — in fact, the “House Special” is topped with parmesan, truffle sauce, mustard, and hot sauce.   And certainly, it’s not un-tasty.  But all that stuff is superfluous, and worse, it just gets in the way of the amazing pork.  The porchetta is so tender, porky, and herby; obscuring it with additional sauces and flavours just seems like a shame.

(Mostly) Tasty Wheel Cakes at Formocha

FormochaLocation: 55 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.formochabubbletea.com/

They sell Taiwanese-style wheel cakes at Formocha (which are essentially pancakes that are cooked in a circular mold with a sweet filling) and they’re mostly pretty good.  But there are a couple of issues.

Formocha

The first (and biggest) issue?  Red bean wasn’t a filling choice, at least when I went.  I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to deduct about a million points for its absence.  I mean, come on.  It’s the classic filling.  Red bean or GTFO.

Formocha

I wound up trying custard, and Oreo custard.  They were both tasty enough, but (and here’s the second issue) the custard tasted off.  There was something weird about it, with an almost fruity flavour that was vaguely off-putting.

The Oreo was much better — rather than the chunks that you might expect, it was filled with an entire cookie, which was surprisingly delightful.

Plus, the cakes themselves were super fresh (they cook them to order), with a slightly crispy exterior and a fluffy interior.  They were good, but… come on.  Red bean.  Give it to me.

Rich, Chickeny Ramen at Touhenboku Ramen

Touhenboku RamenLocation: 2459 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.touhenboku.ca/

The ramen at Touhenboku is a little bit different than the norm.  Most of the ramen shops in Toronto serve tonkotsu-style ramen, in which pork bones are boiled for hours and hours until you wind up with a very rich, porky broth.

Touhenboku, on the other hand, subs out the pork for chicken, and yet still manages to retain that intense richness that you associate with tonkotsu.

Touhenboku Ramen

If your average bowl of chicken soup is the soup equivalent of white meat (lighter, with a more restrained flavour) then what they’re serving at Touhenboku is more like dark meat, with a really intense flavour and a fattier texture.

In fact, the soup might be a bit too fatty, with a heavy oiliness that’s borderline too much.  I’m certainly not going to complain about a very rich bowl of ramen, but this one was slightly too greasy.

Touhenboku Ramen

I ordered the sea salt ramen (a.k.a. shio ramen) from the “Tomo’s favourite” section of the menu.  It’s a pretty standard bowl, with the usual assortment of veggies, an egg, and chasu.

It’s (mostly) quite good.  The noodles were a bit too thin (thick is also an option, however — I think that’s the one to go with), and the flavour was slightly one-note in its rich chickeniness (chickeniness… that’s a word, right?), but it was a satisfying bowl of soup.

Touhenboku Ramen

Most notably, the very intense chicken flavour is pretty remarkable, and the thinly sliced chasu was ultra-tender and perfectly seasoned, with a great porky flavour.  The egg was also perfectly cooked, with a great gooey yolk, so there’s definitely more good here than bad.

Stellar Dim Sum at Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Dragon Boat Fusion CuisineLocation: 160 East Beaver Creek Road, Markham
Websitehttp://www.dragonboatfusioncuisine.com/

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine is a dim sum joint that does well.  We showed up at around 10:40 on a Saturday, and the place was seriously crowded.  By the time we left, it was even more packed, with a crowd waiting for tables almost going out the door.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Eating the food, it’s easy enough to see why.  Some highlights:

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The char siu was sweet and incredibly tender.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

These fried seafood-filled tubes were nice and crispy on the outside, with a fishy (but not overbearing) flavour.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The fried dough noodle rolls were probably the best version of that dish that I’ve ever had, with a surprisingly complex flavour and a very satisfying contrast of textures between the chewy noodle, the crispy fried exterior, and the soft interior.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

I really should have taken a picture of the interior of these salted egg buns, because they were absolutely crammed with an oozy, sweet custardy filling.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

There were only a couple of weak dishes — surprisingly, they were the dim sum standbys that you’d think they’d work especially hard to get right.  The har gow featured an overly thick, almost gummy wrapper encasing overcooked shrimp.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

And the pork buns featured a filling that tasted a bit too leftovery.

Still, they were only two mild weak points in a meal that was otherwise quite stellar.