Early on in the life of the Toronto board, I submitted a plea to you all for a restaurant serving authentic Miso Ramen anywhere between Hamilton and Kingston and came up pretty much empty.
Someone suggested Yokazuna on Hwy 7 - but that is too far for me. Maybe one day.
After a long trip out to the very end of the beaches to Otabe (a recommendation from the board)I was very dissapointed to find it closed. I think it was a Sunday.
Last weekend, I happened to pick up Town Pages Toronto, a telephone directory for Japanese Canadians and what should I find while flipping through? An image of bowl of steaming noodles!
KENZO - Japanese Noodle House.
6180 Yonge St. North York (South of Steeles)
I asked a Japanese friend of mine and she confirmed that there had been rumblings that a new restaurant had opened and that it was run by a chinese couple with a chef who had trained in Japan.
Good enough for me.
I made a plan to go up after work on Friday and I'm back to let you know - this is the real deal. You know that if it's a place you are thinking twice about sharing so that you can keep it to your self it's fit for Chowhounds.
I called ahead to make sure they would be open (they're open from 11am-10:30pm) and to get directions. The restaurant is located on the West Side of Yonge Street at Moore Park across from a Mazda Dealiership. The sign is easy to identify - chopsticks drawing noodles up out of a bowl. It is easy to get to from downtown on the TTC - if a bit of adventure for some. Take the subway to Finch station and get on the Steeles East Local bus (53) or the 90 (ask the driver before you get on - I don't want to lead you astray) and ask the driver to call out Moore Park. Cross the street and it's a couple of doors south.
Upon entering, the fact that a gaijin was walking in seemed to cause a bit of a stir. Perhaps it was just that they were expecting me after my phone call.
There were a couple of Japanese families there having ramen and Yudofu - or some sort of nabe. Good sign, neh?
The dining room has 7 or 8 tables and a bar with stools and is pretty utilitarian. Specials are listed in Kanji on the walls. There are lunch time specials listed in English too.
The menu is english and lists a number of different sorts of Ramen (Shio, Shyu, Miso...).
I also noticed that they do have some Maki Rolls, but you're not here for the sushi baby! Good to know, though, that if you are accompanied by a vegetarian, you should be safe.
Also on the menu are Tonkatsu and Yakitori.
I ordered Miso Ramen and Gyoza.
Three of the servers came up to me to ask me if I've even had Ramen before and how I found out about their restaurant. They have been open for 7 months and I gather word hasn't spread outside of the Japanese and Chinese communities.
I waited a little bit while the Gyoza cooked and it was brought to the table followed shortly after by the Noodles.
GYOZA - The Gyoza is home made and really hit the spot. The sauce that come with it is prepared for you in the kitchen and is garnished with green onion. I did miss being able to make my own balance between shoyu, vinegar and chili oil (I prefer a spicier and more vinegary combination) but other than that very little thing they were delicious. $5.95 for six pieces (I think - I ate them too fast to count)
MISO RAMEN - At last! While the broth is not as complex as the best that I have had in Japan (why I would expect that in Toronto, I don't know) and the noodles are slightly predictable, this is the real deal people! The bowl came topped with 2 pieces of chashu pork (delicious), bean sprouts (just the right amount) and Bamboo shoots (fresh and not canned thankfully). What can I say, I drained the bowl. $6.95
YAKITORI - I was fortunate enough to get to try the yakitori and it was delicious. Like home cooking. Chicken, onion, scallion and carrots in a delicious home made teriyaki sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds. Highly reccomended. 2 pieces - didn't catch the price.
Next time, I'll be trying the Tonkatsu and a couple of other kinds of Ramen. I'll take my camera too.
So if you have ever lived in Japan and have been missing a good bowl of Ramen ever since, plan a pilgrimmage up to North York.
If you ever had the instant Ramen and are curious to learn what it should taste like, first read the ABC of Ramen at http://www.worldramen.net/ before heading up to Kenzo.
I have included the link below, but it appears their site is down.