Suddenly, it seems, ramen is everywhere in Toronto. The classic simplicity of wheat noodles in a fish-based broth affords local chefs a lot of room to stretch their creative muscles, which means that no two ramen shops are quite alike. The task of hunting down the perfect bowl of ramen may seem daunting, but it’s worth the effort, so round up a few buddies and check out these savory spots where the noodles definitely don’t come in a plastic-wrapped brick.
If you’re a purist, check out Guu Sakabar on Bloor Street. With its low, set-in tables and funky light-up wall tiles, it feels like a ramen house in Tokyo — especially during the lunchtime rush. Their shoyu ramen is a classic treatment, and a good choice if you’re new to upscale noodles. Show off your chopstick skills on the crunchy bamboo shoots and the chewy nori, and slurp up the perfectly salty chicken broth with its subtle notes of ocean. Order some warm sake and toast your friends for being smart enough to follow you here. Kampai!
You and your friends roll into modern, cozy Sansotei near St. Patrick subway stop just a hair before noon, and you manage to order the last Spicy Tantan ramen of the day–it’s that popular. Your friends ogle your bowl in envy as you take your first sip of the golden broth. Although it does not ignite your tongue, as the dish’s name seems to indicate it might, it is perfectly seasoned — sweet, spicy, and savory — with pork belly, chilies, and green onion. The egg on top is poached beautifully, with the yolk running just a little bit. You might feel kind of guilty about being the only one to try it, but buy a round of Sapporos for the table and your friends will forgive you.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
From a seat at the bar at Momofuku on University Avenue, you can peep into the open kitchen and watch the magic happen. But, with your bigger, fun-loving group, you’ll want to opt for the long, cafeteria-style community tables. Sit down, greet your table mates, and order the Momofuku ramen. With its stunning composition — starring the flat, cartoonishly swirled fishcake — this is one Instagram-worthy bowl. It’s a thicker-style ramen, with noodles that are just the right consistency, so be prepared for an epic food coma. Cap off the night with the legendary Compost Cookie (sold upstairs at Milk Bar). Two of its many, many ingredients are coffee grounds and cornflakes.