Name: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka.
Price: $10.95–$15.90 for bowls of ramen.
Open: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. everyday.
Assessment: The newest competitor in Toronto’s increasingly fierce ramen war is already being touted, by some, as the city’s best. A Japanese chain originating in Asahikawa, Hokkaido 25 years ago, Santouka now has nearly 50 locations worldwide. Open for just a week, the Dundas St. restaurant is already drawing hour-long line ups, with a mixed crowd of Ryerson students and ramen fans looking to discover what all the hype’s about. Santouka’s signature dish is the shio ramen ($10.95)—a bowl of creamy, rich, salt-flavoured broth (made from pork bones simmered for upwards of 20 hours), with dense noodles, bamboo shoots, jelly ear mushrooms, and tender, gorgeous, fatty pieces of pork belly. And though the menu is small (currently there are only four types of soup available), it’s possible to personalize each dish: you can choose how firm you want your noodles, how fatty you want your pork, a larger ($1 extra) or smaller ($1 less) size, and if you’d like double the meat. The toroniku ramen ($15.90)—the restaurant’s specialty—includes a bowl of noodles and broth, and a side plate with chunks of pork cheek, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and diced scallions, which can be added to the bowl or eaten on its own.
- With winter on its way, the belly-warming soups are a welcome respite from the cold.
- Meals are delivered quickly, so there’s not too much waiting time once you have a seat.
- The broth might be the most flavourful in town, and the thin, dense noodles are perfectly cooked.
- It’s begun to seem like business as usual for a new ramen joint to have a lineup out the door, and Santouka is no different.
Bottom Line: The best in the city? It’s very hard to say, though Santouka has provided stiff competition for local heavyweights Kinton and Sansotei. Either way, it’s a welcome addition to the city’s growing list of ramen restaurants, and might just help dissipate lines elsewhere.
91 Dundas St. E., 647-748-1717, santouka.co.jp.