Restaurant: Ramen Isshin
Location: 421 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1T1
Price Range: $$
Opened by the same people of Kingyo Izakaya (which I haven’t been to), I have seen so many amazing pictures of this ramen joint on Instagram, especially the Tsukemen! After finding my calling (lol) at the first Toronto’s cat cafe, Karen (stenoodie), Alice and I decided to head to Ramen Isshin to warm up with a bowl of ramen.
Located outside of Kensington Market, I have to say this is a rather good location which is away from all the other ramen shops on Dundas – seriously though, there is another one opening right now. The sign wasn’t really noticeable and we almost passed by without noticing it. The restaurant was decently sized with Asian inspired decorations, open kitchen by the front and a dragon mural along one side of the wall. It was quite nice to hear the staff greet customers in Japanese (not as loud as Kinka though) as they enter and leave.
I generally don’t like gyoza as they can be really greasy, but that was not the case for the ones at Ramen Isshin! These had a nice crispy skin while having a great filling packed with flavors.
These takoyaki from ramen Isshin were undoubtedly the best takoyaki that I have had in Toronto so far. They were crispy on the outside, yet still soft and moist and not-fully-cooked on the inside. There were a big chunks of perfectly cooked and tender octopus tentacles inside each takoyaki as well! I also loved how prominent the flavor of the bonito flakes and mayonnaise were, while the takoyaki sauce was just sweet enough to balance out the flavors.
Thought the chicken karaage were perfectly seasoned and tasty, they weren’t the best I’ve had. I found the karaage to be too a bit too oily and the batter wasn’t as crispy as the one I had at Gushi.
Karen ordered the white sesame ramen which came with a pestle and mortar to grind your own seeds and put into the ramen yourself – pictured below.
To be honest, I thought the sesame seeds didn’t have the rich aroma and flavor I expected, thus it really didn’t add much to the ramen. It was also quite difficult to grind the seeds, but kudos on giving this experience to their customers.
Alice ordered the Shoyu Ramen and she thoroughly enjoyed it. I must mention, Ramen Isshin was extremely generous with the portion of the ramen. Our bowls were massive and we were struggling to finish them.
The red dragon ramen looks quite intimidating on the menu as it was the spiciest option at Ramen Isshin, but I can handle spicy quite well so what the heck, why not order it! The noodle came with a thick noodles that were bouncy and cooked in right texture. The broth had just the right amount of spiciness and it was more fatty compared to the shio or shoyu ramen. Actually, I found that the broth here had a more delicate flavor and they weren’t as oily as other places – which is my personal preference when it comes to ramen broth. Their chasu is about 90% meat and 10% fat, and they tasted amazing! It was tender yet chewy at the same time. I also noticed how the bamboo shoots were pretty much the basic topping for all the ramen here. They can smell a bit funny though and if I remember correctly, Karen wasn’t really a fan of the strong bamboo smells at Ramen Isshin, but I personally don’t mind.
The only complain I would have about my ramen was how salty it was, but not MSG salty! I actually had to ask the server for a bowl of plain soup to add into bowl, which should reduce the saltiness but even then, it was still too much for me to handle.
Based on the Red Dragon ramen and the appetizers I’ve tried, this place had a more light and balanced flavour overall than other ramen joints I’d been to, but it was still pretty rich and satisfying! The service was outstanding and extremely attentive despite how packed the restaurant was on a Friday night.