Category Archives: Restaurants

General Japanese food Ramen Ramen Ranking Restaurants

102’s Toronto Ramen Ranking 102のトロント ラーメン ランキング

Hello. I’m a Japanese male living in Toronto. While living abroad, I sometimes want to eat Japanese food very much, but it is difficult to obtain delicious authentic Japanese food, and I imagine that many Japanese people who are living abroad may also be struggling to get them.

Especially among Japanese people, ramen is very popular. However, there is little information about ramen restaurants in Toronto. I imagine that many Japanese people are disappointed in the taste of the ramen available in Toronto because of the differences in preference for ramen between Japanese and Canadian people. Here, I’d like to share the results of my ramen tasting in Toronto as a way of contributing to people who want to know which ramen shops have authentic and delicious Japanese flavor.

 

My ranking of ramen in Toronto is below. The details of each ramen will be written in the future.

1st Sansoutei Ramen             9 pt ★★★★★★★★★☆

2nd Raijin (tonkotsu)              8 pt ★★★★★★★★☆☆

3rd Guu                      7 pt ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

4th Santouka Ramen             7 pt ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

5th Ryoji                      6 pt ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

6th Raijin (toridashi)               6 pt ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

7th Kinton Ramen                            5 pt ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

8th Kenzo Ramen                             3 pt ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

9th Tohenboku Ramen                        2 pt ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

10th  Sukiyaki Japanese Delight        2 pt ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

11th Wakame Sushi                          1 pt ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

 

This ranking was made according to my own personal preferences, so some people may not like the ramen with a higher rank, while some people may like the ones with a lower rank. Another point to note is that there are some restaurants that aren’t ramen restaurant in this ranking; I evaluated only the ramen and didn’t evaluate any other dish.

 

In addition, this ranking was made based on the taste of ramen in Japan, so you may find the evaluations strict.

 

Let me share my comprehensive impressions of ramen in Toronto.

 

1. Tonkotsu ramen in Toronto tastes better than the other flavors

I’m not sure whether tonkotsu (pork bone soup) is popular in Toronto or not, but the rankings for tonkotsu ramen were generally higher than those of the other flavors as they tasted pretty good. For your information, I prefer shoyu (soy sauce) ramen the most, and the order of my preferences for ramen soup flavors is: 1st shoyu, 2nd miso, 3rd tonkotsu, 4th shio (salt). Nonetheless, tonkotsu ramen restaurants seem to rank highly on this list, so I think the tonkotsu ramen in Toronto is good.

 

2. Soups are watery, and the noodles are softer

I’m not sure whether that’s a Canadian preference or not, but many ramen restaurants’ soups are watery and have a lighter taste. Thus, Japanese people may feel that something is missing in the soup. Also, the noodles are much softer compared to the ramen in Japan. As I see it, these differences may be attributed to Canadian’s preferences.

 

3. No white rice on the side menu

When I go to ramen restaurants in Japan, I always order rice with ramen and enjoy them as ramen-rice (eating white rice with ramen soup, toppings and noodles), but in Toronto, almost none of the ramen restaurants have rice (or half-sized rice) on their menu. Some of them have pork rice bowls or chicken rice bowls, but they don’t offer simple white rice. We can’t enjoy “ramen-rice” in Toronto, so I feel a little disappointed.

 

4. No seasonings on the tables

In Japan, ramen restaurants usually offer seasonings, like garlic, white pepper, sesame seeds, etc., on the tables. Customers can add these seasonings to the ramen they ordered however they want. However, none of the ramen restaurants in Toronto have this system. I hope ramen restaurants in Toronto will implement this service in the future.

 

I will add new ramen restaurants to the ranking whenever I eat ramen at other ramen restaurants.

 

If you want me to try another ramen restaurant, please feel free to leave a comment. I will try and taste it whenever possible and add the ramen to the ranking and write a review.

 

 

こんにちは。トロント在住の日本人です。海外に住んでいると無性に日本食が恋しくなりますが、なかなかおいしい日本食にありつくことができず苦悩している方も多いことと思います。

特に日本人にはラーメン好きな方が多いかと思いますが、トロントのラーメン屋に関する情報が少なく、また、現地人の舌による「おいしい」という情報をたよりにラーメン屋に出向いて失敗した方も多いのではと推察されます。そんな方々のお役に少しでも立てればと、私も日本人の舌で感じた結果を情報発信していきたいと思います。

私がこれまでにトロントで食したラーメンのランキングは以下の通り。細かいそれぞれの店のレポートは少しずつ加えていきたいと思います。

第1位  三草亭               9点★★★★★★★★★☆

第2位  雷神(とんこつ)          8点★★★★★★★★☆☆

第3位  グー                 7点★★★★★★★☆☆☆

第4位  山頭花                7点★★★★★★★☆☆☆

第5位  リョウジ               6点★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

第6位  雷神(鶏だし)            6点★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

第7位  金とん                   5点★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

第8位  ケンゾー                 3点★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

第9位  唐変木                 2点★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

第10位 すきやきジャパニーズデライト  2点★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

第11位 ワカメ寿司               1点★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

 

あくまで私個人の好みによるランキングです。上位の店に行ったがまずかったという場合もあるかもしれませんし、逆に下位の店が好みの方もいるかもしれません。そこをお含みいただいた上で参考にしていただければと思います。また、ラーメン屋以外のレストランも含まれておりますが、そのレストランのラーメンのみを評価しており、他の料理等は評価に含まれておりません。

 

日本にあるラーメン屋ベースで評価しているので、比較的辛口の採点になっているかもしれませんが、ご了承ください。

 

トロントのラーメン屋の全体的な印象を以下に記載します。

 

1.とんこつラーメンのレベルが高め

トロントでとんこつが流行っているのかわからないですが、とんこつラーメンを押しにする店の割合が比較的高く、そのレベルも高いような気がします。ちなみに、私自身はしょうゆラーメンが一番好きです。好きなラーメンの味を順に表すと、1しょうゆ→2味噌→3とんこつ→4塩となるにもかかわらず、ランキング上位にとんこつが入ってきているので、トロントでは比較的とんこつラーメンのレベルが高いと思われます。

 

2.全体的にスープが水っぽく、麺がやわらかめ

カナダ人に合わせているのかはわからないですが、全体的にスープが水っぽく薄味なところが多いです。そのため、日本人には物足りなさが感じられると思われます。また、これも現地の方の好みに合わせているのかもしれませんが、麺が比較的やわらかめであると感ぜられます。

 

3.サイドメニューにおけるライスの欠落

日本にいたころは、ラーメン屋に入った際は、私の好みとしてサイドメニューでライスを必ずオーダーして、ラーメンライスとして食していたのですが、トロントではライス・半ライスがメニューにあるところはほとんどない。あっても、チャーシュー丼やとりから丼などの丼物であり、純粋にライスをスープで楽しむということができないのが少し悲しく感じます。

 

4.テーブル上の調味料の欠落

ラーメンへの調味料、特にニンニクやコショウの欠落も気になるところです。日本では、ほぼ当たり前となっているテーブル上のすりおろしニンニクやコショウ、トウガラシ、ラー油などのお好みで加える調味料は、トロントのラーメン屋では皆無です。サービスの一つとして加えてほしいところですね。

 

なお、今後も新たなラーメンを食した場合もランキングに追加していく予定です。

 

トロント市内で試してほしいラーメンショップがある場合にはコメント欄に記載ください。可能な範囲で対応し、ランキング・レポートに追加していきます。

Restaurants

LUMA lounge

This restaurant and lounge is on the second floor of the TIFF lightbox, and one of the recent additions to the Oliver and Bonacini restaurant group.

We were here on a warm Friday night for after work drinks. The window bar was the perfect perch for people watching – a calm and air conditioned oasis overlooking the well trodden entertainment strip on King West.

The lounge is modern and sleek, and open to the main TIFF building on one side, and connected to the main restaurant on the other. The little bound hardback menu did not fail to impart a feeling of relaxed luxury, even if just slightly overpriced. That said, cocktails were exquisitely mixed with premium liquors, balancing delicate flavours and bearing whimsical film themed names. And wine was served at the perfect temperature in the most appropriate stem wear.

Appetizers were delicious – the warmed olives burst with flavour, and the lamb meatballs were delightfully curried morsels. Like the drinks, everything was served with attention to detail.

A great place for a drink. Definitely a treat, but not for the every day.

250 King West

http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Luma.aspx

Restaurants

Barque Smokehouse

Meat lovers, rejoice! After nearly a decade’s barrage of vegan and vegetarian joints in the city, we are seeing a carnivore revolution!

My mouth started watering the instant my nose caught a whiff of the smokehouse. At the door, the hostess took my name and number, and after some back and forth and mix-ups, which made me seriously consider finding dinner elsewhere on the Roncy strip, we were seated at the kitchen bar 40 minutes later.

The ambiance was comfortable country chic, like a glammed up version of a ranch grill for us city folk. The food followed suit: good, but with more focus on presentation and frills than necessary. It felt like we were paying more for the décor and the novelty, rather than good, down-to-earth barbeque.

We were served with complementary Q water, sparkling of course (since we had the choice), and a bucket of popcorn. Tantalizing glimpses of the grill made it difficult to focus on the menu. After much deliberation, we ordered the sampler, which gave us the opportunity to try a bit of everything.

The brisket was amazingly melt-in-your-mouth, moist and succulent. The ribs were richly layered with sauce and fell off the bone. And the chicken… meh. Stick with the big meats. The sides were a good complement to the barbeque, but nothing special. We had the caesar salad and corn cobs. The food was served up neatly on a platter with mini tongs, along with three different sauces and a brush for DIY basting.

A decadent meal calls for dessert, and the pecan pie didn’t fail to deliver. I rolled out of the restaurant with mixed reviews tumbling in my head. The verdict: even with the rude hostess and overpriced menu, I’d go back just for another taste of that brisket! And the Q sparkling wasn’t bad either.

299 Roncesvalles Ave

Healthy cooking Restaurants Vegan/Vegetarian

Hibiscus Cafe – salads, soups, crepes, and more!

One of our long standing Kensington Market staples, this little café offers an eclectic mix of vegan soups, salads, and crepes, gluten free baked goods, and dairy free ice cream and smoothies. Far from a wacky alternative health food store, it’s actually a cozy eatery churning out delicious light meals that just happen to be healthful. We’ve watched this place get more and more popular over the years, and although we’ve long lost our claim to the coveted window table, we keep going back just for the food .

My favourite is the mixed salad, which comes in a large bowl with generous scoops of their popular quinoa, lentil, green bean, tofu, carrot, sweet potato (and many other) salads – everything but lettuce! The large salads are also topped with a crispy sweet raw cracker (I wish they sold these in boxes!).

Savory buckwheat crepes come with a variety of fillings. The spinach, mushroom, and mozzarella crepe has a tangy pesto that gives an extra zing.

Soups are thick and heavily herbed – perfect to round out a meal, but not enough to stand out on its own.

The sweets are outstanding, and demonstrate creative experimentation and well thought out flavour combinations (a shout-out to our friend Grace!). The cookies made of rice flour are light and crispy – more wafer than doughy (try the green tea cookie). The non-dairy cream is creamy, and packed with flavour (recommend the black sesame or ginger). And the soy smoothies are lightly sweet and frothy (try strawberry).

Word on the street is that Hibiscus also makes their own soy milk and tofu.

One warning – this place is tiny. If you don’t want to wait for a table while literally hovering over other diners, get there earlier than 1pm. Patience is also required, as service is friendly but can be slow. And the ambiance encourages lingering over a cup of fair trade soy latte.

$15-30 for a meal for two.
238 Augusta Ave.

Breads Middle Eastern Restaurants Vegan/Vegetarian

Za’atar Manakish

Manakish is a type of Lebanese food made of dough that is rolled flat and baked. Popular toppings include za’atar (a mixture or spices including thyme, oregano, majoram, savory, sesame seeds, and salt), cheese, and minced meats.

My favorite is from a Lebanese store called Al-Taib on Guy street in Montreal. They have a wide variety of Manakish, but my favorites are the za’atar one, and the ‘half-half’, which is half covered with za’atar and half with cheese. They bake the manakish in a large hot oven upon ordering, and hand it to you wrapped in a piece of paper or in a paper bag, hot. They also have Lebanese vegetables you can put on the manakish to make a roll.

The manakish is best fresh, of course. However, when I bring a bunch for my sister in Toronto, we freeze them, and then toast them in a toaster oven when desired. They taste just as good.

Chinese food Restaurants

Little Sheep – hotpot heaven on a chilly night

Continuing with the soup theme this Fall… hotpot party!

On our recent trip to China, we were completely impressed with the Little Sheep restaurant in Beijing. The service was cheerful, the food was fresh, and, most importantly, the broth was amazing. When we learned that Little Sheep had branches in Canada, we were super excited.

When the craving hit, we called some friends, eagerly piled into the car, and headed to Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot out in the suburbs. Hotpot is a style of soup fondue popular across Asia (in fact, I’ve heard that in Quebec and parts of Europe, a broth fondue is called “Fondue Chinoise”). Different regions have their own specialty ingredients, flavorings and styles. Variations include nabe (in Japan), shabu-shabu (in Taiwan and Japan), or jjigae ( in Korea).

A communal meal often eaten in the winter, hotpot starts with a simmering pot of broth placed at the center of the table. Ingredients are put into the pot, cooked at the table, and eaten immediately. Popular ingredients include thinly sliced meats, leafy veggies (such as bok choy, spinach, or lettuce), mushrooms, meat balls, root vegetables (like sweet potato and taro), seafood, tofu, dumplings and noodles. There are also a wide array of dipping sauces and herbs – my favorites include black vinegar and soy sauce, or hoisin sauce with cilantro.

When we entered the Toronto restaurant, the smell immediately made our mouths water. The all-you-can-eat menu started with a choice of broth, all made with Little Sheep’s secret soup base. The basic broth came with garlic, lotus seeds, red dates, ginger, green onion, and nutmeg bobbing on the surface. The spicy variation came with a good handful of firey Szechwan pepper, while the herbal version was lightly scented with ginsing and goji berry. For the indecisive (like myself), the divided pot allows for a choice of two types of broth. Little sheep also has family sized pots or individual pots, to suit your mood for sharing (or not). The induction hot plates built into the table surface let diners self-adjust the simmer intensity.

The great thing about Little Sheep is that it features a food bar, which reduces the hassle of flagging down busy wait staff. The open refrigerators displayed rows and rows of raw ingredients, which were fresh, clean, and also refilled frequently. There was also a small selection of slightly greasy appetizers, bowls of yummy sauces, and a handful of fruit and dessert items. Fountain drinks were also included, with both sour plum juice and traditional soy milk soothing accompaniments to the spicy hotpot.

By the time we strolled back to the car, stuffed to the brim, we decided that it was definitely worth the drive and the 45min wait for a table. Although the food was slightly saltier than expected, the lingering smell of Little Sheep’s secret soup base brought back fond memories of Beijing.

2543 Warden Ave. 416-916-9866.

Japanese food Restaurants

Guu – a short whirlwind trip to a Tokyo bar

I’ve been hearing great things about Guu, so I was excited to finally try it out! Guu is a casual Izakaya (Japanese pub) newly opened in Toronto, known for it’s lively atmosphere and unique Izakaya food. In short, perfect for a Friday night!

Notorious for lengthy wait lists for a table, we arrived right after work and enjoyed some drinks on their heated patio. After about an hour, we were seated at a long table with benches, rubbing elbows with other groups enjoying good food washed down with mugs of beer.

The menu features small share plates (tapas style) of Japanese nibbles. Starting with orders of yakitori, we soon moved onto other more adventurous dishes. Salmon and tuna sashimi came lightly seared in a tangy citrus sauce. Creamy baked avocado and shrimp melted on the tongue (with just a touch too much mayonnaise.) Other must-haves include the eggplant, unagi rice, pork belly, and pumpkin croquette.

Along with Japanese beer, sake, and wine, Guu’s signature cocktails are a delightful way to re-live late nights at a Tokyo kareoke bar. Vodka sodas, and cocktails of lychee, sour plum, and sugar cane, are sweet but typically watery – pro: you can drink twice as much while enjoying the frenetic atmosphere.

Guu has a loudly bouyant energy that makes it difficult to hold onto the stresses of the work week. From the moment we stepped through the door, service was fast, efficient, and most of all, cheerful. Wearing traditional Japanese work garb, the staff take the spirit of “genki” to new heights – deftly delivering orders, and yelling greetings to each customer as they arrive or depart.

We could have stayed all evening, but did I mention that they hold customers to a 2 hour sitting time? Nevertheless, we rolled out of Guu well-fed, well-watered, and slightly heady from the experience.

398 Church Street
According to their website, they also have several pubs in BC.

In this picture – tuna sashimi, eggplant in garlicy miso sauce, sapporo beer, and sugar cane cocktail.

Korean food Restaurants

Dolsot Bibimbap – better than the sum of its parts

Korean Mixed Rice in a Hot Stone Bowl

Sometimes, you just feel like savouring a big bowl of something warm, spicy, creamy, and deliciously chewy. It’s like comfort food, with more kick. Dolsot Bibimbap is one of the tastiest dishes in Korean cuisine, and one of the most well known. If fact, when we were in Korea, my sister and I specifically tracked down a restaurant famous for this dish (and let me say, it didn’t dissappoint!:)

When the craving hits in Toronto, we often go to Korean Village Han Kuk Kwan (628 Bloor W). After some yummy side dishes, and a bowl of miso soup, the bibimbap arrives at the table sizzling, aromatic, and prettily presented – a feast for the eyes, nose, and ears. A hot stone bowl, lightly greased with sesame oil, holds warm rice topped with an array of seasoned vegetables and meat – slivers of zucchini, carrots, daikon, and shitake mushrooms, and tangles of bean sprouts and spinach, with tender stirfried beef. Balanced on top is a fried egg, sunny-side-up, garnished with sesame seeds and a few straws of nori (seaweed). All of this is accompanied with a side of red chili sauce.

Bibimbap is meant to be mixed, so it is inevitable that this prettily displayed dish ends up as a homogenous mass. Yet, it somehow tastes best this way – the rice develops a crispy stickiness, the egg melts and disappears, and everything merges together into something indescribably delicious.

Mixing a bowl of bibimbap can be quite an art… a steady, constant motion is required to ensure that each grain of rice gets enough contact with the hot stone, while at the same time ensuring that nothing rests in place too long to burn or stick. I like to start with a squirt of red chili paste, then using the spoon, I roughly chop up the egg making sure that the egg yolk breaks. Then I start scooping down the side, along the bottom, and up the middle – turning the rice and everything on top at once. Once in while, I use the back of the spoon to pat down the mixture, ensuring contact with the stone, and an even distribution of all the ingredients. Not sure if this is the way it’s supposed to be done, but i’m always happy with the result.

Japanese food Restaurants

Tokyo Grill (Toronto Restaurant)

The BEST Casual Japanese Food Joint in Downtown

A couple of Japanese exchange students clued us into this tiny unassuming restaurant on a busy section of Yonge Street. It’s specialty is authentic casual Japanese fare – I’m told it’s the type of food families eat around the dinner table, or at the local izakaya (pub). It’s actually run by Japanese folks, and the small tables are usually packed with groups of Asian students looking for quality cheap eats.

A warning to the uninitiated – there is no sushi here. Many unsuspecting customers who equate Japanese food with sushi have left disappointed. For those looking for something other than the old california roll, tempura, and miso soup combo, Tokyo Grill is something special.

The appetizers are simple. Edamame, grilled fish, and japanese pickles are good starters if you’re hungry, but the mains arrive equally fast.

A selection of ramen bowls, donburi, and grilled foods dominate the menu. If you can’t decide, the specials board offers great suggestions, and all featured meals come with complementary miso soup (incidently, one of the best miso soups we’ve had this side of the Pacific).

The croquette dinner is a favorite – two panko encrusted crispy potato patties served with rice and salad and sauce. The terriyaki dishes are popular, and also come with pan-grilled vegetables. Salmon is usually a great choice.

The sukiyaki is perfect in the winter months, with a soul-warming sweet broth chocked-full of thin-sliced beef, tofu, Japanese spinach, bean sprouts and onions. Ask for an extra bowl of rice, and there’s enough for two.

And on the last Saturday of the month, Tokyo Grill serves up freshly made soba noodles by the platter. It surprised me how different fresh soba tastes compared to the store-bought dried variety – not quite the same difference between fresh and dried Italian pasta.

This visit, I opted for the chicken kastu – deep-fried breaded chicken fillet served with salad, rice, and tangy tonkatsu sauce. The chicken was moist, but not greasy. The salad was simple, with a citrus-y dressing. Just non-pretentious, wholesome food

582 Yonge Street (at Wellesley)

Japanese food Restaurants Travel eats

Ramen Museum in Shin-Yokohama

I went to the Raumen Museum in Shin-Yokohama yesterday. Not only did they have a museum explaining the history of ramen, as well as the differences between the types of noodles and flavours from different regions, but there was also two floors of ramen restaurants set in a Showa 33 (1958) themed area, where you can choose and eat ramen from different famous ramen restaurants across Japan.

IdeShoten ramen- soy sauce and miso base. Delicious!

I only managed to try two restaurants before I was too full to eat more, (their mini-bowls were not as mini as I had expected. ) but they were delicious.

Of note, one restaurant we went to had a ‘ramen fork’. I think it was probably designed for people who can’t use chopsticks, but due to the novelty of it, my friend and I decided to try it out. It actually works really well!

They were selling the forks in the souvenir shop for 840 yen. I bet it’d probably work well with other noodles and pasta too.

Sakamoto ramen- soy sauce based with chicken and leek toppings. The broth was too watery and bland for my taste, but the chicken was good.

I’d like to go again and try some of the other ramen shops too.

More info:
Raumen Museum Official Page