Wednesday, August 1, 2012 0

Kinton Ramen - Guu's expansion into the ramen business

By kc in

I was going to be ambitious and start attacking my pile of long overdue restaurant reviews... but then I was importing the photos I took of my recent visit to Kinton Ramen and loved the pictures too much to say no. At least there's still a review either way?

Having loved both Guu Izakaya and Guu Sakabar, I had to come try Guu's new expansion into the ramen industry. Besides, this is the beginning to a(n) (also long overdue) ramen trend growing in Toronto.

Staying consistent with their signature squares and wooden theme, their newest establishment is a ramen "bar". As you can tell from the photo above, the restaurant is deep and narrow, with 2 communal tables at the front (where we sat) and some more seats at the back.

We arrived shortly after 5 PM and since the hype has somewhat died down already, we didn't have to wait long until our table was ready. Except that one of our companions was late, hence we couldn't be seated until the entire party arrived.

Gyozas ($3.50)
I love dumplings. For more than 2 years now, I visit Northern Kitchen Dumplings at least once a month for my fix.
But these gyozas are slightly different from the usual ones found at Chinese restaurants. They are the delicate version - a slightly chewy wrapper and a calculated proportion of juicy meat to achieve a wonderful balance. Unlike the usual let's-stuff-as-much-meat-as-we-can type of dumplings.
I also liked how there wasn't much oil from these pan-fried goodies. Again, very different from the ones I'm used to but in a good way.

See how there's still space inside the dumpling?

Having read quite a bit of reviews on Kinton prior to coming, I decided to order the crowd favourite - Shio Ramen ($9.50) with pork belly and a regular soup - sea salt, beansprout scallion, nori (seaweed) and a seasoned egg.

Like everyone said, the noodles are on the firmer side with a very, very slight "al dente" bite. While the soup itself is flavourful, it wasn't the deep, full bodied flavour I had hoped. It was also too salty. I had heard the other soup bases such as Shoyu (soy sauce) were even more salty and had hoped Shio would be better in this aspect.

However, I did enjoy their soft-boiled egg. I loooooooooooove runny eggs. In fact, I think one of my mom's biggest pet peeves is my adoration for raw eggs in everything. Yes, I know salmonella exists and the dire consequences of it. But but but there's tsukimi udon! Hot pot! Runny scrambled eggs! Poached eggs! Life just wouldn't be the same without it. Right??
(And if you're ever in the mood to make your own soft-boiled marinated ramen egg, Serious Eats does an in-depth run-down on it).

This is the ramen that made Kinton Ramen stand out from its competitors: Cheese Ramen ($10.80) - miso and light soup, Swiss cheese, choice of pork shoulder of belly (we chose belly), beansprout, corn and basil.

Truth be told, I was a little hesitant about the marriage of cheese and ramen. But I figured if the people behind Guu thought it was good enough to put on their menu as a permanent dish, it probably is good. And it was GREAT!

As the sprinkled handful of Swiss cheese gradually melted on top of the steaming bowl of ramen, the more it dissolved into the soup. It give the ramen a slightly salty yet delicious flavour.

Extra Pork Ramen ($12.80) - choice of Miso, Shio, Shoyu or Spicy soup base (we chose Miso and heavy) with extra choice of pork (we chose belly).

Notice the colour and opaqueness of the above soup is much more cloudy than the rest. It's because my friend chose "heavy" for soup - meaning the amount of fat. It gave the soup more richness but I still think it lacked depth. I also found that the Miso soup base was not as salty as my Shio one. The extra fatty pork belly was chopped up into large chunks and were charred nicely (a better char than mine in fact >_>).

Out of all 3 ramens we've tried, I liked the Cheese Ramen the most. The combination was unique and surprisingly delicious. I liked the Shio the least due to its saltiness (it's very possible to make a sea salt soup base without it being too salty!). The noodles were good but nothing special. As a matter of fact, I didn't find the ramen as a whole to be exceptional or incredible. It was good ramen (and at affordable prices) - just not amazing ramen. But on the up side, it's still better than what Toronto previously offered!

Now we'll have to sit tight and see how well Kinton will fare with the upcoming competition (I can't WAIT for momofuku!!!!!!!!!!!). In the mean time, I hope they can tone down sodium and perhaps add a milky pork bone soup base next?

Kinton Ramen
51 Baldwin Street
Toronto, ON M5T 1L1
(647) 748-8900

Hours of operation: Sunday to Thursday: 11:30 AM - 3:00 PM; 5:00 PM - 10:30 PM
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 AM - 3:00 PM; 5:00 PM - 12:00 AM
* no reservations *

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