Eating Michelin distinguished Ramen
Updated: Feb 11, 2019
This world famous Ramen restaurant will leave you drooling and dreaming for more.
Where to find it: Tokyo and Toronto
Before I delve into the ramen eating, let's dissect the Michelin restaurant guide which is influential enough to either make a restaurant a sensational star or doom it into oblivion. This little publication is over 100 years old and was started by a French car tire company. Pardon me, but are we are all taking palate instructions from rubber manufacturers? Moreover, to be clear Konjiki Ramen does not actually have a Michelin star, it is merely 'recognized' in Michelin's Tokyo guide. Nevertheless, all that hype proved sufficient for me to determine that this ramen noodle dig was one I would have to experience for myself. Luckily for me, a second location of this Tokyo establishment recently opened up in Toronto.
The trek to Sheppard- Yonge (Toronto) where Konjiki Ramen is located is one I would make happily again and again. We arrived late on a Sunday evening, strategically aiming to avoid a line-up. Reservations at this spot are simply not done and from the moment we stepped in, it was clear why. Even with frigid temperatures outside and the Monday morning looming closer, there was a populated line up of hungry ramen seekers.
As we waited our turn, it was impossible not to buy a matcha flavoured walnut brownie from Saryo, the adjoining dessert café.
Chewing my brownie, I diligently prepped myself for eating ramen, according to Konjiki’s printed guidelines. Step 1: Touch the ramen bowl and feel its warmth. Step 2: Smell the ramen bowl, without drooling into it. Step 3: Sip the ramen from three different angles to feast your tastebuds on each unique flavour. Step 4: Stuff your mouth full of ramen.
There isn’t a lot of choice on the menu, yet I still struggled to decide on my ramen of choice. The Signature Konjiki Shoyu Ramen comes in mild and intense flavour. The word signature immediately signifies this to be the best ramen on the menu. Or is it? I tortured myself for several minutes as I weighed the pros and cons between the signature and the three variations of the Tonkotsu Ramen: smoky black, spicy red, and original. Surely if you’re going to start with anything the original should be at the beginning of your journey.
The original Tonkotsu is based on pork broth, whereas the Signature line features the famous clam broth. My incessant hunger made selection impossible. Luckily, my sister came through during this time of need by ordering a Signature intense ramen. This meant that I was free to order a non-original/signature line and I immediately selected the smoky black Tonkotsu. To my delight, my boyfriend ordered the original Tonkotsu ramen thereby closing this self inflicted circle of dilemma.
When the dishes arrived, each was carefully laid out with its ingredients artistically displayed on top. Each dish looked and smelled distinctive. The above noted guidelines on eating ramen were incidentally completely forgotten.
The Smoky Black TonKotsu Ramen
The Smoky Black Tonkotsu really did taste quite smoky with a definitive aroma of truffles. The ground pork perfectly complemented the notes of garlic in the broth and the cherry tomato and bamboo shoot added final touches of precision.
This one was actually my favourite Ramen (you can tell from the shaky unfocused picture resulting from my hand trembling as I struggled to delay eating to take the pic).
The Original Tonkotsu
The Original Tonkotsu was so different from its smoky black cousin that had the menu not indicated them to be of similar broth base, I would not have guessed it. The pickled ginger and takana pickles magnificently complemented the pork cut.
Signature Shoyu intense Ramen
The famous Signature Shoyu intense Ramen lived up to its name. The different flavours bursting through the clam broth each carried its own intensity without overshadowing one another; porcini mushrooms, black truffle sauce, sous-vide chashu pork, bamboo shoots, leek and spring onion.
When Chef Yamamoto set out to create the best ramen dish possible, he wasn’t kidding.
Side note: ensure you wear stretchy pants to this place, the ramen noodles come in size X- LARGE.
Next up: a Wednesday trip to Konjiki for the once-a-week Lobster Ramen.