Santouka Ramen 山頭火 on Dundas Street East is on every listicle on Toronto's best ramen. Santouka Ramen is a large Japanese chain established in Hokkaido in 1988 and now has outlets around the world.
I like it that the Hokkaido Santouka Ramen outlet in Toronto is in an old style brick lined shop house (instead of a gleaming shopping mall).
I also like the layout inside Santouka - on one side are windows facing Dundas Street letting light flood in, so it is bright inside. The simple furnishings are sturdy and comfortable. On the other side are bar seats overlooking the open kitchen.
I got a seat as soon as I entered the restaurant as it was half full on the Tuesday afternoon. I was offered a bar seat but declined in favour of a brighter window seat so that I can take better food pictures. Next time, I shall take a bar seat to catch the kitchen crew in action.
Santouka serves ramen, sides like gyoza and drinks like beer. Here's just Santouka's ramen selection.
I ordered a Kara Miso Chushu ramen (CDN13.80) and added an ajitama egg (CDN1.60) which is served separately. In the deep bowl, there were noodles, chashu, chopped spring onion, crunchy slivers of bamboo shoot and black fungus all submerged in pork broth with a red chili slick on top.
Santouka's kara miso broth with spicy slick on top is medium bodied, not overly heavy. There is an underlying porky flavour but the dominant savoury flavours came from the miso (fermented soy bean) and salts, overlaid with the mild hot spices. The layers of flavours make this broth interesting and delicious even though it is not full bodied.
The noodles though done nicely al dente with a light spring to the bite were a let down as they were mass produced, generic and even have a slight alkaline taste. It is not much better than chilled ramen on supermarket shelves or even premium instant noodles out of plastic packets.
I love Santouka's chashu.
Santouka's chashu has a good balance of lean and fat. The whole thin strip of meat and fat is tender and the fat extra soft. The strip of slow simmered pork releases a nice natural porky flavour with each bite.
Of the four pieces of chashu in my bowl, one consists of just lean meat and it was slightly overdone, so it was a little dry and fibrous.
The ajitama egg was served in it's own little dish. The egg was a little overdone though still runny in the centre. There was not much flavour in the soft boiled egg even though it was marinated.
👉 I like Hokkaido Santouka Ramen because of their excellent chashu and delicious pork broth. However, their mass produced, generic ramen isn't so good.
Restaurant name: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Address: 91 Dundas St E, Toronto, ON M5B 1E1
GPS: 43°39'23.1"N 79°22'39.4"W | 43.656402, -79.377599
Tel: (647) 748-1717
Hours: 11:00am to 11:00pm
Date: 28 Feb 2017