The recent influx of west coast Japanese restaurants has made me super excited! Starting from Guu a few years ago to the recent additions of Hapa and Kintaro Ramen, the deliciousness of the Japanese food in Vancouver is finally making its way to Toronto, filling a much needed gap.
One franchise that I'm very excited to have in town is Santouka Ramen. Santouka Ramen is one of many local Vancouverites' favorite ramen joints and was a very close second for me purely based on Ramen. It was, however, moves ahead with the addition of some pretty amazing side dishes.
A franchise that has come to us all the way from Japan, Santouka's history is quite simple. Santouka's founder Hitoshi Hatanaka was disappointed with a recent bowl of ramen that he had had and decided that he could make a better bowl himself--and that he did. With locations scattered all around Japan, the U.S.A, Vancouver, and now Toronto, he must have been doing something right.
The broth used in Santouka's Ramen is unlike any ramen I've had before. Using a Tonkotsu base, pork bones are simmered for 20 hours before adding all the other ingredients. This makes the broth have a super rich, velvety, almost oily flavor, but never overpowering.
The second half of the equation for me were Santouka's side dishes, my personal favorite being the Ikura Gohan. A very simple dish, it's just salmon roe served over a bed of rice, topped with some pea shoots and tamago. For me, the key was to eat this dish using chop sticks.
Yes, a spoon would probably be more efficient, but using chop sticks allows only a few of the roe ball in each bite--as well as picking a few shoots and strands of tamago--making for the perfect mix. Using chop sticks is also more delicate, keeping more of the roe balls intact and allowing them to pop in your mouth rather than in the bowl.
Man, writing this post has made me crave some Santouka . They better hurry up and open up here or I see a trip to Vancouver in my future.
- Donnie the Foodie
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