A few weeks ago*, I was invited to the media preview of a new ramen house on Queen west. I was thrilled to hear we were getting a ramen joint close to work. I mean, I love Khao San Road, but there's only so many times I can have the Pad Gra Prao. It's nice to spice things up a bit and since I'm on a bit of a ramen binge - this was perfect.
- *we all know it wasn't a few weeks ago.. go ahead and pass judgement at my procrastination, yada yada yada - just play along ok?
Unlike the other ramen places, Touhenboku has a chicken based broth and you can definitely taste the difference. The broth was a little more on the greasy side and thicker in consistency.
I really enjoyed the fact that they gave you a choice between thin or thick noodles and either shio (sea salt) or sho-yu (soya). If you're new to the ramen world they recommend ordering the Original Touhenboku Ramen with shio - which allows you to enjoy it at its most natural. I always find "the original" at ramen restaurants to be a little bit bland though.
Another thing that sets them apart is the all women team working the noodle station - which is a rarity because usually it's a team of men behind the ramen bowls. Zuimei (the owner) made this decision purposely to set them apart. He also spared no expenses when it came to the quality, this included shipping in a $40,000 noodle machine so they can make their own [noodles] in house and ordering custom $50 bowls straight from Japan. That's right - the bowl you're eating your ramen from cost more than the actual ramen! When asked why the extravagance, Zuimei wanted to keep the temperature of the noodles as hot as possible for as long as possible - not too shabby right?
On this occasion, I ordered the Garlic Touhenboku Ramen. Two things I noticed instantly: the chicken broth and the pork shoulder. If you're use to a pork based broth - you will notice the difference here - duh - it'll taste like chicken Einstein and the portion of protein, in my opinion, is pretty generous.
There is a perfect balance between noodles - topping - broth - and protein. You really had just enough of everything. The noodles were more chewy and cooked way past al dente - which I prefer. Besides ramen they also offer Donburi rice bowls and a pretty good variety of appetizers. I had the chicken karaange on my second visit and it wasn't the best fried chicken I ever had - but it was still fried chicken… so I cleaned the bowl.
Like any other ramen eatery in Toronto - the place is hella tiny! So leave your entourage at home and prepare to wait in line if you happen to come during peak nom nom periods.
261 Queen Street West
*this was a media preview, therefore my meal was complimentary