91 Dundas St. E, Toronto, ON
Santouka Ramen is a ramen chain originating from Hokkaido, Japan that opened up its first Toronto location in November, 2012. Although there have been numerous ramen shop openings in Toronto during the past few months, I have’t had a chance to go to any of the new openings, until recently. Luckily, we arrived at an optimal time, as there was no line out the door! Since it was fairly cold that day, I was happy to be waiting inside, where I could smell the food and watch the hustle and bustle of the servers and cooks.
Although there were quite a few people in front of us, we did not have to wait that long and were promptly led to the bar, where we were able to watch the cooks in action.
While Hokkaido-style ramen specializes in miso broth, I opted to get the I opted to get the toroniku shio ramen ($15.90) which is considered their signature dish. The ramen came with their special pork cheek (toroniku) meat and toppings (bamboo shoots, green onions, wood ears, and a single umeboshi).
The noodles were decently springy and chewy, but nothing to rave about. I prefer soft noodles to al dente noodles, so I’m slightly biased. However, the broth was great. While many people consider their shio broth to be too salty, but I found it to be perfect! After all, shio means salt in Japanese. The texture of the broth was rich and slightly creamy, and very flavourful.
Since the toppings and toroniku were given separately, I had the option to add the toppings and meat slowly and whenever I wished. The toppings were pretty solid, and I especially liked the bamboo shoots. However, the toroniku is amazing. Perfect, melt-in-your-mouth and very tender. I ate most of it at the start of the meal, while the broth was still piping-hot.
One of my friends got the normal shio ramen ($10.95) and the other got the shio ramen combo with chashu pork on rice ($15.95). She commented that the chashu pork is a bit salty, and I sadly have to agree.
While the ramen I had at Santouka was good, it wasn’t particularly mind-blowing or exciting. However, if you’re looking for a bowl of comfort food on a cold day, Santouka is a pretty solid choice.