Having both spent significant time in Asia (well Micky is Taiwanese – so she grew up there), we’re both really fond of authentic Asian cuisine. That is why we’re absolutely embracing the explosion (ok maybe not so much an explosion, but rather an expansion) of Ramen restaurants in the downtown core of Toronto. While Santouka was not the first kid on the block, they’re also no longer the new kid either. Having noticed that there was always a pretty big line-up out front, Shallots and Chalets postponed visiting Santouka for few months. We couldn’t wait any longer after hearing all the hype.
Located on the south side of Dundas Street, just west of Church Street, this space was previously a derelict dinner. For two reasons we liked this development going in where it did. Firstly because it does a lot for this lowly strip of Dundas, not more than a 5 minute walk from Dundas Square. Located so close to a major university (Ryerson) we think this isn’t the last new development to go in near this space. Secondly, it’s another Ramen restaurant and we love seeing the proliferation of common Asian eateries throughout Toronto (and not only in Markham, etc).
Turns out we’re not the only ones in Toronto that couldn’t wait to get their hands (or mouths) on bowl of Santouka Ramen. When ever we’re in the neighbourhood, there always seems to be a line up, but for some odd reason we got really lucky with how busy it was. Getting there around 5pm seemed to be an optimum time, as before and after we were seated there was a pretty long line up (about 30 minutes). They’re open from 11:00am to 11:00pm, so pick your poison, but we found just before the dinner rush was the least busy.
As we said before, Asian cuisine is something we dig – Big Time. From Pig’s ears (One of Micky’s favourites) to Spicy Bean Curds (One of Mikey’s favourites) we get down. On this particular evening, we started off with an appetizer of Gyozas. Funny little fact – these are a main stay at many Japanese restaurants, but they are in fact a traditional Chinese dish. The dumpling skins were cooked to near perfection and with a pork filling that has a well balanced flavour.
Anywho – they had decently flavoured pork fillings with a perfect crisp fry on the outside. A 7/10. Micky decided to go with a bowl of Shio Ramen. For her, the broth was rich, but still a bit salty (even for a Shio Ramen). Shown below.
Mikey went with their signature – Toroniku Kara Miso Ramen (Spicy) dish. Although this too was a bit salty, it’s Ramen…isn’t it supposed to be a touch salty? This dish comes with the toppings served separately. Rather than the typical pork slices, this dish comes with pork cheek (jowl) meat. Apparently, only 200-300g can be taken from each pig and thus gives it a bit more of an expensive cost. The meat falls apart in your mouth however and is worth every penny!
Overall, we were quite pleased with this meal. Although Ramen stores in Asia (Japan, China and Taiwan) aren’t particularly expensive, Ramen restaurants in Toronto seem to run a couple (two mains, an appetizer and two drinks) about $50. This is a night-out, but not the typical easy evening dinner you’d go to a few times a week.
Here’s a pic of the chefs at work.
We’ve also gone out to Kinton Ramen and sampled most of their dishes (here is our review).