REVIEW BY JESSE CECCHETTO
Chicken soup may have been for the soul at one point in time, but in the diverse modern food era we have today, ramen is the soul soup of choice for an increasingly growing number of people.
Recognized as the national food of Japan, ramen’s curly noodles have spread their delicious reach to virtually every corner of the world.
While sushi restaurants have saturated the market for decades, ramen shops are giving them a run for their money, with restaurants like David Chang’s Momofuku getting worldwide praise and recognition.
With the introduction of instant ramen back in 1958, traditional Japanese noodle restaurants became more and more common. Kenzo Ramen has been a hub for ramen enthusiasts in the greater Toronto area since they opened their first shop in Toronto back in 2002.
Kenzo Ramen is keeping the tradition of authentic Japanese ramen alive. Far from your instant ramen, Kenzo elevates the flavour and quality of their ramen and it does so at a fairly cheap price, compared to your average restaurant.
Kenzo’s noodles are made from scratch and their ingredients are high quality, which is evident when comparing their soup to other ramen shops in the area. If you’re lucky enough, you might even get to watch the older Japanese ladies as they craft gyoza by hand while blasting music on their headphones at the table next to yours.
Besides the taste, the atmosphere can be alarming to some at first, but comforting to returning customers. Each time you enter Kenzo, you are bombarded with a friendly greeting from every staff member in the restaurant.
Within a split second of entering Kenzo, you will hear the harmony of multiple people yelling “Irasshaimase!” in unison. If you’re like me, you’ll be instantly confused but in the best way possible. This is a very common Japanese greeting which means “welcome to the store” or “come on in”.
If you can get over the sound of slurping noodles, the constant ballad of “Irasshaimase!” and the chatter of other guests that quite possibly are inches away from you, you’ll start to love the hustle and bustle of Kenzo.
Kenzo Ramen offers a considerably larger array of dishes than its competitors and also several unique dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in the GTA. Their noodles are made from scratch on a daily basis, and their broth is stewed for over 24 hours.
All this attention to detail and quality are immediately noticeable when you take that very first bite of noodles and that first steaming hot spoon full of delicious broth.
After dozens of trips to Kenzo, the Tonkotsu, Black Tonkotsu and Shoyu Ramen are of my favourite dishes on the menu.
The fresh greens, milky white broth, warm yellow egg yolk, and signature bright pink swirls of the narutomaki come together to form a beautiful bowl of ramen art that is both appealing and delicious. The broth is rich and full of flavour, the noodles are soft with a slight bite to them, and the chasu pork melts in your mouth.
I can never bring myself to leave without also ordering a side of gyoza or at least one piece of onigiri, no matter how low my chequing account happens to be.
Whether it’s a cold winter day, a rainy fall afternoon, or a hungover Saturday morning, Kenzo Ramen is sure to warm your belly and your soul.