Category Archives: Cuisine (Japanese)

Kinton Ramen

51 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON
(McCaul St & Dundas St)
Tel: (647) 748-8900

Japanese Ramen seems to be a hot item in Toronto lately and most of the new shops appear to have insanely long line ups. I have walked by this place on Baldwin several times and each time I popped my head in to try to get a table, I’m told there’s a (min) 45-60 min wait. Luckily, it is on Baldwin and there are many near by cafe (John’s Italian is a good choice) to grab a glass of wine while we waited.

Other than in Japan and Vancouver, I have never had cheese with my Ramen in Toronto ..the combination tastes amazing. It’s a puzzle to me how the cheese melts so quickly even though the temperature of the soup isn’t scorching hot. And for some reason, this item is a popular favorite with the ladies. Guys generally like their Ramen with “extra” pork and butter (which is at least 3/4″ thick!!).

The only thing I was disappointed with was the cocktails. I ordered an Ichow (white wine with ginger ale) and it was only 1/4 glass full with ice!

But as for the line up (which I don’t generally do) .. All I could say was it was worth it!

• Cheese Ramen (soup broth is nice and creamy) – choice of lean pork or pork with belly fat
• Gyoza

Good to Know
• Best seats: At the back (The worst seats are ones at the front beside the window. Everyone who is standing around, starving, waiting for their name to be called is drooling and slobbering over the windows while watching you eat, bite by bite.
• Atmosphere: Casual and trendy (they use the brick blocks along their wall as their background design on their business cards)
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: N/A
• Patio recommended: N/A

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Kinton Ramen  on Urbanspoon


Momofuku (Shōtō)

188 University Ave, Toronto, ON
(Richmond St W and University Ave)
Tel: (647) 253-8000

Having been to (and had a great experience) at Momofuku in New York, I was excited to be one of the first to try their shōtō (tasting menu) in Toronto. Although, the overall experience was good and they had a couple of really excellent dishes, I didn’t feel it was worth the $150-200 (wine pairing optional) price tag.

When we arrived, the restaurant was packed and a line up was forming outside of Shangri-la for the noodles section. We sat at the bar and watched the chefs (about 5-6 of them) prepare. For such a hip establishment and a younger group of chefs/servers, I was surprised that most of them did not appear passionate in what they were doing .. in fact, they seemed stressed (maybe because they’ve only been opened for a week and were still sorting or organizing themselves out).

The pace at which we were served was well-timed and steady until near the end. The last plate, the dessert, took more than 15 mins (because someone forgot to put the houtenanny into the oven) and on top of that, they made a mistake on our bill that took another half an hour to try to fix and reissue our receipt. Unfortunately, they did not seem apologetic for our time and when they turned us away with “please call us tomorrow to settle this,” it left a disappointing taste in our mouths.

• Egg with dashi, horseradish and ikura
• Spaghetti with nori, sardine and lumpfish
• lobster with tandoor, lemon and fava
• banana with cashew, mint, gula jawa (tasted like “Crunch” candy bar)

Good to Know
• Best seats: Around the chef’s bar (to watch how they prepare and coordinate with one another)
• Service: Overall disappointing (although there were two servers that were great)
• Atmosphere: Trendy (and dark near the bar area, which made taking photos on this post difficult)
• Ideal for: foodies, long dinners and dates
• Attire: Smart casual and business
• Reservations recommended: Yes (weeks in advance)
• Patio recommended: N/A

Momofuku on Urbanspoon

Blowfish on Bay

333 Bay Street, Toronto ON
(Bay St & Adelaide)
T: 416 860 0606

With Blowfish’s new location, combining art and Japanese cuisine just got more convenient for the folks in the Financial District. BF has the most tasty, innovative and delicious makimonos – ingredients include mango, curry and even popcorn … and they’re soooo good!!

• Makimonos
• Handroll – made with rice paper (not seaweed)
• Sakitinis (these are dangerously delicious because they taste like juice)

Good to Know
• Best seats: The round booth at the front
• Service: Friendly and helpful
• Atmosphere: Contemporary; trendy
• Ideal for: Date; business lunch; GNO; Sushi lovers
• Attire: Business casual; trendy; business
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: N/A

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Blowfish on Urbanspoon


3160 Steeles Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario
(Woodbine Ave & Steeles Ave E)

J-Town is the largest Japanese shopping mall in Toronto. They sell everything from sushi, groceries, fashionable accessories to cosmetics. They also have small restaurants inside the building that serve fresh food at great prices.

As you know, I don’t cook … but I still enjoy grocery shopping here at Sakana-ya and Heisei Mart. If you’re a sushi lover, I highly recommend you pick up a sushi platter. What I like to do is pick up a package of freshly imported seaweed (comes with sauce) from Japan, sushi/sashimi (i.e. uni, salmon roe) and grilled squid  for dinner (see photo). Not only is it delicious but an incredibly healthy choice. There are many other varieties of sushi/sashimi or cooked items available to choose from as well. For dessert, stop by the bakery. You’ll find a wide variety of cakes and pastries displayed. The challenge is to decide on which ones to try.

• Sushi/sashimi platter
• Uni in its shell (if you love sea urchin)
• Udon noodles

Good to Know
• Best seats: N/A
• Service: Friendly
• Atmosphere: Basic, market
• Ideal for: Casual, quick eat, take out,
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: No
• Patio recommended: No
• Parking: Free
• While you’re there: Check out Heisei (Japanese grocery store), Tora Sushi or Sakana-ya (for seafood/sushi/sashimi) and Bakery Nakamura.

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Kenzo Japanese Ramen House

138 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON, M5G 1C3
(Bay & Dundas)
T: 416-205-1155

A nice, convenient location – located right in the heart of downtown (close by to the Eaton Centre, AMC, and Atrium on Bay) – for Kenzo to open another location. Kenzo is known for their Japanese Ramen Noodles. 

If you like noodles with soup, you can choose the miso or broth base soup. Alternatively, you can have it “dry”, which is pan fried and served in an iron plate. Side dishes include gyoza (fried dumpling) or tacoyaki (pan-fried octopus balls – a piece of octopus fried in a light puffy batter, shaped as a ball).

• Miso Ramen (try this if it is your first time and don’t know what to order)
• Tacoyako
• Don’t forget to add schichimi pepper.

Schichimi pepper is a spice mixture that generally consists of seven ingredients – typically a blend of ground red chili pepper, ground sansho pepper, roasted/dried citrus peel, sesame seed, poppy/hemp seed, ground ginger, and nori.

Good to Know
• Best seats: If you like a little more privacy, the tables with wall separators
• Service: Generally nice
• Atmosphere: Basic wooden tables
• Ideal for: Casual, quick eat
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: No
• Patio recommended: No

Kenzo Japanese Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Japango Sushi & Noodle Restaurant

122 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, ON M5G 1P5
(University Ave & Dundas St)
T: (416) 599-5557

This is one of Toronto’s best kept secret and one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in the city. Delicious food, fresh fish, hospitable service and conveniently located … what else can I ask for? Okay, maybe one suggestion … a bigger spot.

This place is very small and the tables are tightly packed (reminds me of the tiny noodle shops in Japan) and fits about 20 people. Even though this quaint restaurant has very little space, they are not short of servers with about 3 sushi chefs and at least two waitresses at a time.

• Sushi – they serve a very good selection of (quality) fish (if you’re there for lunch, I recommend the Sushi Bento Box over the combo because you also get a small side salad and a daily appetizer, which could be grilled minced meat eggplant or fried tofu)
• Japango maki rolls
• Plum wine
• They also do Omakase (Chef’s choice) as well but you have them give them at least 24 hours advance notice.

Good to Know
• Best seats: Window seat right next to the wall (less traffic)
• Service: Very nice, friendly, always topping up my green tea cup (and the tea is so calming with the burnt rice aroma)
• Atmosphere: Quaint; tiny; wooden tables, bench and stools;
• Ideal for: Quick eat, lunch, take out
• Attire: Casual (If you can, I suggest not wearing anything big e.g. a big fluffy parka since it will be challenging to take it on and off in the restaurant and to find a place to hang it.)
• Reservations recommended: Yes. Quite often they will turn people away even though the restaurant does not appear to be full but the tables are already reserved.
• Patio recommended: No

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Japango on Urbanspoon

Toshi Sushi

565 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M1
(Bathurst St & King St W)
(416) 260-8588

A decent Japanese restaurant that is perfectly located if you plan to go clubbing along the King St W strip. If you are there just for the sushi, I recommend doing the combination platters than ordering a la carte (individually). Else, if not in a hurry, I’d encourage you to try the omakase (chef’s choice)

• Omakase (chef’s choice) – a number of small dishes (appetizer portion) that the chef chooses to make. Note: you need to give them at least 1 day notice in advance is required.
• Sushi platter

Good to Know
• Best seats: At the back of the restaurant
• Service: Good
• Atmosphere: simple; narrow but long (when you walk in, you’ll see more seats at the back)
• Ideal for: Casual, sushi lovers
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: No
• Patio recommended: No

Toshi Sushi on Urbanspoon

Ninki Sushi

40 King Street West, Toronto, ON
(Adelaide & Bay)
(416) 368 – 7333

Like many of the sushi restaurants in the area, Ninki Sushi was packed during lunch. I come here out of convenience more than preference. As for the food and service, it’s okay (not great quality but still fresh).

• Sushi platter
• Grilled octopus

Good to Know
• Best seats: No preference
• Service: Okay
• Atmosphere: Uses pine wood for decor; tables are set very close to one another to optimize revenue
• Ideal for: People who work in the area, quick eat, take out
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: Yes, especially for lunch
• Patio recommended: No

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Ninki Sushi on Urbanspoon

Kintaro Ramen

788 Denman St, Vancouver, BC, V6G 2L5
(604) 682-7568

This is one of the oldest (if not the first) Ramen shops in Vancouver. Their soup base is made from real pork bones.

Eye opener – I would have never fathom eating cheese with Ramen noodles but it actually tastes awesome!!

• Cheese Ramen with Pork (the menu says, “Ladies love it!” I guess it’s true!)
• Gyoza (fried dumpling)

Good to Know
• Best seats: Maybe at the counter to watch the chefs prepare the noodles but it could get very warm sitting there while eating a hot bowl of noodles
• Service: Good
• Atmosphere: Simple and small (limited space)
• Ideal for: Casual and quick eating
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: No
• Patio recommended: No

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Kintaro Ramen on Urbanspoon

Bistro Sakana

1123 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC, V6B 5P2 
(604) 633-1280

A very small restaurant in Yaletown with a very high turnover. I have read great reviews for this restaurant and was also highly recommended by my hotel concierge. After dining there, I thought the place was okay but did not walk away with the same passion.

• Everything I tried was okay; nothing particularly stands out for me to recommend here.

Good to Know
• Best seats: No preference
• Service: Friendly
• Atmosphere: Basic
• Ideal for: People in the neighbourhood, lunch
• Attire: Casual, smart casual
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: Yes

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Bistro Sakana on Urbanspoon