Restaurant: Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya
Location: 690 College Street, Toronto, ON M6G 1C1
Price Range: $
To be honest I never heard of Ryoji ramen & Izakaya until I received a $50 coupon from Zomato, hence part of this review was provided by the company. However my friend and I ended up ordering $100 worth of dishes and drinks as toward the end of the meal, we realized $50 was just simply not enough to fill up both of us.
Upon entering Ryoji, I was surprised to see how quite it was at 6PM on a Sunday! The restaurant was spacious with both a dining room and a bar area. Ryoji also offers two large tables for big groups, with one being near the kitchen which was great to see some chef’s action. The ambiance was lovely and music was not obnoxiously loud (seriously what’s up with Toronto’s restaurants and the way they blast music as if it was a club?).
I’m not sure of the special menu on other days, but this was the special dishes they were offering on Sunday. Before ordering, I mentioned the coupon to our server and she brought the manager who took the coupon away to ensure it was valid. The manager came back a few minutes later with an attitude saying how she can’t accept the coupon since we didn’t make a reservation… I asked her to check the system again as I made the reservation a week in advance, then she decided to let us use the coupon and walked away without apologizing. Seriously what kind of attitude is that?
Ugh this shot did not capture the beautiful presentation of this dish at all! The tuna was placed inside a tube made out of daikon radish, and the flower-shaped radish resembled the falling sakura flowers. Despite the artsy presentation, I thought this dish was a bit too expensive for $13 as you are only getting a few chopped pieces of tuna here. I liked how the salted wasabi pesto had enough spicy kick without the heat linger in your mouth. However I couldn’t really taste the raspberry balsamic soy vinaigrette as I felt there were too much raw red onions compares to the sashimi, thus I couldn’t taste the flavors of the tuna.
Very good, sweet PEI oysters with a slight tangy yuzu jelly to brighten up the freshness of the oyster. My only complain is that I wish there were more, but T graciously let me have two oysters, hehe.
Did you know that most of the Kobe beef that is being served in Toronto isn’t “real” kobe beef? The restaurant would need a license to import Kobe beef from Hyogo prefecture in Japan and currently Park restaurant in Montreal is the only place where you can get actual Kobe beef. Not saying it’s a fraud to call these as “Kobe beef” as the cows are being raised similarly to the real thing in Hyogo prefecture, it just tick me off when people brag to me about eating kobe beef all the time in Toronto. Little do they know, lol.
I highly recommend this dish! The portion was generous for $15 and it would have been better if they offered more crostini or different type of bread! My teeth constantly felt like it’s going to break soon everytime I took a bite :(. I liked how the fresh scallion puree and garlic confit aioli added just enough flavors while still letting the natural flavors of the beef tartare to shine through. It was not spicy nor too salty, just seasoned perfectly with some crunchy texture from the crispy rice :).
Again the portion was a bit small for $23 but it was another dish that both of us really enjoyed. The steak was perfect medium rare and melted in your mouth goodness. The garlic oil and pickled onions gave a hint of spiciness and the sweet(!) soy sauce was just right without overpowering the natural taste of the kobe beef. That bright orange puree is smoked carrot and I wished there was more, it was aromatic, smooth and comforting, yummy!
Toward the end of the meal, T and I both ordered a mini Shio & Shoyu ramen (not pictured) for $7 each since we were still quite hungry. Both bowls came out piping hot with a smooth and superb flavorful broth. With that said, it was quite bland and I felt the broth might be too fatty for some people. Noodles were cooked to perfection and I was surprised to see thin noodles (which is what I prefer anyways), and there wasn’t an option to choose thicker noodles so I guess this is how Okinawa ramen is supposed to be? The cha siu was buttery soft and melted in your mouth, but I would have appreciate it if there was more meat compare to fat and a bit more charred on the pork belly.
Ryoji is actually “imported” from Okinawa, Japan so it was a bit surprising for me to see how the restaurant serves modern Japanese food with a diverse staff! The pricing is comparable to Guu, however I found Ryoji to offers a wider variety of dishes and you can actually hear your fellow diners in the latter (seriously thank you). While the service was a bit slow, it was understandable as our server was new and really friendly, except for the manager. All things considered, Ryoji is one of the better Izakaya I’ve been to and I would recommend their special main dishes over the ramen any day :).
Disclaimer: While the $50 gift card was provided by Zomato, I am not obliged to publish a review on the business. All opinions/thoughts are my own. For more information about my review policy, please click here.