The Ramen scene in Toronto right now is much like a wildfire: out of control, with little left to burn and nothing left to prove. I traverse the abundant supply by (re)affirming one simple demand: best broth available. So for me, it’s a no-brainer… when I get that ramen hankering, or just need a bowl of soup because my daughter’s daycare has provided me with yet another cold, I go to Santouka Ramen for the broth.
Served Hokkaido-style, the broth is derived from pork bones that are simmered for 20 hours before adding the veggies, dried fish, kelp, pickled plum, bamboo shoots, kikurage (pickled seaweed), cha-shu (pork rib) and, of course, ramen noodles. I gotta say, Santouka Ramen would be near perfection if only they pulled their own noodles. But I digress, as it’s not really the noodles I’m after.
Ordering is pretty straightforward. First you pick your broth… Shio (salt), Miso (soybean paste, served mild or spicy), Shoyu (soy sauce) or Toroniku (with toppings served separately). Then you pick your size (large is only $1 more). Then you decide if you want to make it a combo (served with one of the house salads). For me, it’s very tricky not to order combo 21, as it comes with a sidecar of Ikura Gohan (a rice bowl topped with salmon roe). It is a bit steep @ $17.95, but well worth the splurge once in a while; perfect for a casual business lunch.
Using the exact same cooking methods in all 54 of their restaurants around the world since 1988, these guys are obviously doing one thing really, really well. The Toronto Food Blog recommends trying this place out if, A, you’re craving ramen; and/or, B, if you’re in the proximity of Yonge & Dundas Square and are looking for something decent to eat. I can say with confidence that these bowls of soup truly are line-up worthy… even if you do find yourself queued-up outside “against the wind.”