Address: 91 Dundas St E, Toronto, ON M5B 1E1
Phone: (647) 748 – 1717
A 5 minute walk west of Eaton Centre and Yonge- Dundas Square, outside the Ryerson University Campus, Santouka Ramen has found its prime location on TTC route, serving students and young adults. The restaurant is obvious, as it is the only building that has the red brick structure, large glass windows, along with Japanese and English words painted in white on the external wall. The designers have revamped the building in Old Toronto and gave it a modern contemporary appearance. It was cute how there were plastic bowls of ramen displaced at the windows; kind of clever, to show everyone what to expect from the menu.
Storefront is incredibly small and cramped. With the assistance of the drop down windows, light fixtures and the contrasting wall panels, the restaurant space appears larger, since more light is coming through and steer attention to the outside environment. My only complaint is there is no privacy in the restaurant. Your neighbour is literally half an arm’s length beside you and expect to hear each other’s conversations completely. Even if you do not plan on eavesdropping, it is inescapable.
Due to lack of seating, there is always a constant lineup, at least a 30 minute wait. Despite not taking reservations and a first come first serve policy, the wait is more bearable than some of the other places I have been to. The pro is how it is a ramen restaurant, Japanese style of fast food, the turnover time is fast relative to bars or sushi house, where the environment is more sociable. In such a fast paced environment, the service was speedy and responsive. Twas friendly enough, no special feelings or dislikes about it.
Spicy Miso Ramen and flaked salmon don combo set ($22.50) was a good deal in a way. Portions were adequate and filling, sort of similar to McDonald combo size. Salmon Don was dry and bland. The rice went wrong, was in a paste-like texture. However, the ramen was delicious, had many levels of flavour. Initially, it was sweet miso soup, slowly progressed into the fresh ingredients salt mixture and into the spiciness. Enjoyed the dimension of flavours the soup base provided. Though, I do not mind it being more spicy.
Toroniku Ramen ($12.95) is their signature ramen, where the ramen and toppings were served separately. Toroniku is simmered pork cheek (jowl) meat. It has rich flavour – fresh, sweet, soy sauce saltiness and soft, melt in your mouth texture, like fat. By dipping the meat in the broth, the meat absorbs the broth and brings out the character of both parties. Shoyu soup is made from a mixture of pork bones broth and soy sauce. It takes 2 days of boiling and simmering to complete, making the soup extra sweet, creamy, smooth and rich in pork aroma. you will not get sick of this broth.
Overall, both soups were not salty and can continuously drink it, thinking it is the healthiest thing ever. It did not feel fat and did not notice a layer of oil floating at the top. Definitely has a better soup base than others. The thick strands of noodles Santouka used benefited the soup base. Other than being al dente, texture was firm, the noodles swam in the bowl of delicious soups, absorbing the essence of the soup base. It was a scrumptous meal, that was comfortable, satisfying and warming after a day of activity. Santouka, keep it up!