Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year,
you’ll know that Toronto’s ramen scene is booming (yes, we now have a ramen ‘scene’).
So when we heard that Ryoji Ramen
& Izakaya (690 College St.) was opening its first international location in Toronto
(booming ramen scene, like we said), we knew we had to check it out.
The restaurant seats 103 people via an assortment of booths, bar seats, leather chairs
and a large communal table. Not only is the space huge, it’s beautifully
decorated. Wood, mirrors and lights are the central themes of the restaurant,
creating an ambiance that makes you feel like you’re no longer in Toronto.
darn good too. The menu ranges from tapas & salads to homemade tofu to deep-fried
and grilled items, and of course Toronto’s food du jour, ramen. We started with
the delicious Poki Salad, a Hawaiian-style salad with fresh fish sashimi and citrus fruit
on top of mixed greens, topped with Ryoji’s sweet chili dressing ($10).
Confused by the Hawaii reference, our dinner guest kindly pointed out that Japan and
Hawaii aren’t that far apart (duly noted for our next Cash Cab appearance).
are specific to Okinawa, an island south of mainland Japan, like ji-ma-mi, homemade peanut tofu ($6). This isn’t
your typical tofu, ji-ma-mi is made from boiled peanut extract and flour that
create a sticky and smooth tofu-like dish. Topped with a finger-licking good
sauce (soy, ginger and brown sugar we think), peanut tofu is something you’ll just have to experience yourself.
kick ass bowl of soup. Ryoji offers three types of ramen: Otoko-Aji (Tonkotsu),
a rich pork bone broth topped with chashu (pork belly), bean sprouts, scallions
and kikurage mushrooms ($11); Onna-Aji (Shio), a light and flavourful chicken
and pork bone broth topped with chashu, leek konbu, fish cake and dried seaweed ($11); and Ryoji black, the restaurant’s own soya based Ramen – spinach, chashu,
cabbage, menna, leek and yaki-nori ($12).
with octopus, tonkatsu sauce and mayo ($7). Ideal for sharing, these are like a Japanese take on Tater Tots, with an octopus surprise in the middle.