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  • [Travel] Day #15 in Japan [Koyasan]

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Showing posts with label Ramen. Show all posts

Ramen Isshin

 Ramen Isshin is a ramen establishment that opened in 2012 by the same people behind Cabbagetown's Kingyo. I had the pleasure of being invited by Yuki to attend a blog tasting of their menu a couple weeks ago. The tasting was held to showcase the summer special 2016, which is revamped every summer. This year, the featured ramen was the Isshin Cold Red Miso Ramen, a vegetarian and cold ramen. We were also given the opportunity to try a ramen dish of our choice, and all of the appetizers and desserts on the menu.

Ramen Isshin seated about 30 people, and its decor was very Asian-inspired with wooden panels, and large wall murals. Staff were also encouraged to greet customers in Japanese, but they were not overly loud like the ones working in izakayas.

To start, we were introduced to this summer's special, the Isshin Summer Cold Ramen; a bowl of signature thin wavy noodles, wok fried ground red miso tofu mince, fresh sliced okra, kimchi, wood ear mushrooms, topped with sweet white onions, diced tofu, deep fried onions, green onions, and a slice of lime. There was also an option to add additional toppings like marinated egg (+$1.50) or make it non-vegetarian by adding cha shu (+$2.80). The ramen was super refreshing to eat, especially in this heatwave that we've been experiencing lately. It was also generously topped with loads of toppings, and the broth was pretty light. This bowl of ramen is only available until the end of August.

Red Miso Cucumber (Vegan) ($4.20) - Fresh Japanese cucumbers accompanied with a Red Miso Meat Mince Dipping Sauce. Don't let its taste fool you because it is Vegan Friendly!

Hiya Yakko (Vegan) ($4.80) - Smooth, cold tofu smothered in Isshin’s own house made chilli oil, green onions & bamboo shoots

The Deep Fried Pork Gyoza ($5.20) - Crunchy, juicy gyoza served with amazing Isshin "Umami" sauce , was pretty good. It was crispy on the outside, and the pork filling was juicy on the inside.

Age Tofu (Vegan) ($4.90) - Deep fried tofu drizzled in a home made chilli oil and sweet soy topped with green onions. Note that this appetizer is also vegan, so it would be a great alternative for those who have specific dietary restrictions.

Chicken Karaage ($5.20) - Our signature Isshin Karaage. Super crispy, crunchy, juicy bites of Japanese style deep fried chicken served with kupe mayo. 

Seafood Okonomiyaki ($5.80) - Japanese savoury pancake topped with bonitio flakes, nori, kupe mayo & okonomiyaki sauce

Cabbecha Cha Shu Salad ($3.90) - Introducing Cabbecha Cha Shu Salad. Chunks of Cha Shu and Napa Cabbage drizzled with a sweet, spicy sesame soy dressing. Great with Ramen and Sapporo!

Lately, I have been craving Tako Yaki ($4.90) -  deep fried battered octopus formed into balls topped with bonito flakes, takoyaki sauce & kupe mayo, so of course I had to try the ones here. Each order came with 6 bountiful pieces of octopus balls that were generously topped with mayonnaise, and bonito flakes. The takoyaki was crispy on the outside, and the interior was filled with tender octopus pieces. The ones here from Ramen Isshin was one of the better takoyaki balls that I have tried.

For my main choice of ramen, I opted for the Spicy Red Miso Ramen ($13.90) - house made chilli oil, Isshin Red Miso blend, wok fried pork, onions, bean sprouts, carrots, wood ear mushrooms, chives, green onions, pork belly cha shu & thick twisty noodles. I loved the chewy texture of the noodles, and the broth was perfect, as it was flavorful without being overly rich or oily. I prefer spicy broths, and the ramen definitely delivered.

Shoyu Kotteri Tsukemen ($14.80) - Enjoy our Traditional Shoyu Kotteri “Rich” style Dipping Ramen. Double soup is a Seafood & Pork Broth flavoured with our Isshin Shoyu. Topped with Sesame Seeds & Green Onions Kaedama

Ramen Isshin also gifted me with complimentary coupons for a second visit, which I took my fiance. This time, I got the Asari Light Shoyu Ramen ($10.30) - A light smooth sweet & creamy taste blended with our signature Isshin Shoyu. Topped with bamboo shoots, nori, marinated soft boiled egg, pork belly cha shu, green onions & thin wavy noodles. Another great bowl of ramen from Ramen Isshin, and it was priced fairly too.

White Sesame Shio Ramen ($10.30) - 100% natural sea salt, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, soft boiled marinated egg, pork belly cha shu, green onions, grind your own white sesame seeds & thin wavy noodles

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream (3 Scoops) and Black Sesame Ice Cream (3 Scoops) ($3.40)

Fresh Mango Pudding ($4.20) - made in house daily with fresh mangos

The Mochi Ice Cream was probably my favorite dessert out of the ones we tried. Spoonful of green tea ice-cream thinly wrapped with a layer of chewy mochi.

Don't forget to cool yourself off with their drinks selection including iced coffee with milk or a pitcher of Sapporo beer.

In my opinion, Ramen Isshin is a solid ramen joint, and you should definitely check it out. Don't forget to drop by to try their new summer ramen before it ends after August.

Address: 421 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1T1

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Ramen Isshin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Kinton Ramen 5

Kinton Ramen is a popular chain of ramen restaurants with five locations in Ontario. They recently opened their fifth location adjacent to Kinka Izakaya on Church St. I was invited to a media tasting earlier last month, and had the chance to try an appetizer and ramen of my choice with a friend. I have been to Kinton Ramen several times before the media tasting, so I was pretty well aware of their food. What I enjoy about Kinton Ramen is their consistency of their food products, and portion sizes. The fifth location of Kinton Ramen features their signature block designs with high table-top and wooden tables. However, in contrast to some of the other locations, this location has large windows that allow natural light to shine into the restaurant.

Kinton Ramen allows the diners to customize their bowl of their ramen to their liking by providing various options. It's great as people do have different preferences and tastes.

Step 1 (broth) - select from pork ramen or chicken ramen

Step 2 (flavour) - choose from original, shoyu, miso, spicy garlic, or extra pork
Step 3 (noodle) - choose from thick or thin
Step 4 (meat) - choose from pork or chicken (additional meat is +$2.50)
Step 5 (additional toppings) - choose from a variety of toppings such as sweet corn, nori, seaweed, scallions, Swiss cheese, and more.

I opted for their Original Pork Ramen ($10.99) - sea salt, bean sprouts, scallions, nori, seasoned egg with corn (+$1) and seaweed (+$1). This is my usual ramen order whenever I eat at Kinton Ramen, as I do like lighter broths. The broth is also rich in collagen, and one can order it light, regular, or rich. Aside from the broth, I believe that the pork belly is also an important component of a bowl of ramen. The pork belly here was slightly blowtorch to give it a nice charred finish. Overall, it was a very satisfying bowl of ramen on the cool evening.

My friend got the Original Chicken Ramen ($11.99) - sea salt, white onions, scallions, nori, seasoned egg with seasoned vegetables (+$3.50) and seaweed (+$1), which she enjoyed. 

Kinton Ramen has a nice selection of hot tapas available like edamame, original karaage, takoyaki, and more. I always get the age gyoza ($3.90) - deep fried pork dumplings with original sweet chili sauce, so this time was no different. Kinton Ramen is actually one of my favorite places for gyoza, and it has to do with the accompanied sweet chili sauce. 

My friend got the takoyaki ($4.50), which contained four deep fried octopus balls with tonkatsu sauce and mayo. There was a reasonable amount of octopus pieces stuffed into the flour-based batter.

Try a cold tapas like the tako wasabi ($3.90) - marinated octopus with wasabi stem.

Kinton Ramen 5 is a good place to dine, especially if you're looking for a quick dinner. It can get pretty busy during the dinner rush, but I do find the turnover to be rather quick. Kinton Ramen 5 is open Monday to Sunday from 11:30 am - 10:30 pm.

Thank you Stella and Kinton Ramen for the warm hospitality.

Address: 396 Church St, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2

Instagram: http://instagram.com/kintonramen
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kintonramen
Website: http://www.kintonramen.com/

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

KINTON RAMEN 5 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Santouka Ramen

Over the past few years, there has been an influx of ramen restaurants popping up in Toronto, more specifically in downtown. One of them was Santouka Ramen , which opened its door in late 2011, and has become a pretty popular destination for a ramen fix. Santouka Ramen is a ramen chain originating from Hokkaido, Japan, with several international locations, so you do get an authentic taste of ramen here. After an event, my friend, and I decided to drop by for a quick dinner. We waited about 10 minutes to be seated, which wasn't too bad. 

Santouka Ramen specializes in tonkotsu broth, and they have a specific method to get the pearl-colored Tonkotsu soup. Although, that sounded very tempting, I opted for their Shio Ramen (salt flavor) ($10.95) - our signature ramen which is mild and creamy soup seasoned with salt. Shio Ramen is our only ramen that is topped off with a Japanese pickled plum. There was also an option to add additional toppings for a surcharge, which I chose corn for an extra $1. Overall, it was relatively well-portioned, and there was a generous amount of perfectly cooked ramen noodles. The broth itself was light, and slightly creamy, which I enjoyed. Reviews have often stated that they found the broth to be much saltier compared to other establishments. However, I have been several ramen restaurants during my 2013 Japan vacation, and it was equally salty over there. I highly recommend Santouka Ramen for their ramen, and they offer quick, and friendly service. So next time you find yourself craving some ramen, drop by Santouka Ramen for some.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Kenzo Ramen

Kenzo Ramen is another ramen chain that has several locations across the city. I went to the one located in the Annex a couple of days ago. I ordered their The King of Kings Ramen ($12.95) - spicy Netsu ramen with five toppings of roasted pork, sliced egg, fish cake, fresh seaweed and dried seaweed. Season topping: marianted bamboo shoot, which was topped with a generous amount of sliced roasted  pork and bean sprouts. It was priced well and the portion was more than generous. However, I couldn't help but noticed how much more sodium (salt) there were in the pork broth here than any other places that I have been to. It was kind of hard to drink the entire bowl cause I was pretty much consuming a handful of sodium with each gulp.

Unfortunately, my review on this particular bowl of ramen is a little mixed. While I enjoyed the tasty and tender pork; I thought that the noodles tasted slightly like instant ramen to me. However, they do offer vegetarian options at Kenzo Ramen so that's always a plus for those who can't eat meat.

 Address: 372 Bloor St W Toronto, ON M5S1X6 

Kenzo Ramen on Urbanspoon

Kenzo Japanese Noodle House on Urbanspoon

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Ajisen Ramen [revisited]

Ajisen Ramen is a chain based out of Kyushu, Japan, and there are three locations in Ontario. My review on this location was back in late 2012. Unfortunately, that meal was rather disappointing as we felt extremely rushed, and the portions were miniscule. It might not have been an unfair assessment as that dining experience took place about 45 minutes before closing time. We were the only customers at the time, so it could have been the particular staff (at the time) who wanted to clean up and go home.

Since my last review, I have returned to the Chinatown's location a couple of times. They have updated their menu again a couple of months back. The extensive menu offers bright and clear images of the food items. Additionally, in my opinion, their food and service seem to be quite consistent these days. Our severs are often friendly, quick and efficient.

One of my favorite items (and usual order) is their Aijisen shoyu BBQ chicken udon ($9.75). Despite their namesake, I rarely order ramen from Ajisen Ramen as I don't eat ramen all that often. I would eat it occasionally, but my favorite noodles would have to be udon. The udon at Ajisen Ramen is one of my favorites in Toronto. I was sad when I couldn't find it on their updated menu. However, I was informed that the ramen could be substituted for udon (for no additional cost) and I can get it with chicken broth. The chicken broth is a lot lighter than the pork broth used for the ramen soup.

The udon came out hot, and the broth had a good flavor (enhanced by the spices on the table). They actually don't mix the chicken into the broth anymore. Rather, the shoyu BBQ chicken udon would arrive to the table on a sizzling hot plate.

The Japanese deep fried tofu ($5.50) was crispy on the outside, and soft/warm on the insides. Delicious!


Quality of Food: 3.8/5
Service: 4/5
Overall Dining Experience: 3.8/5
Price: $

Address: 332 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON, M5T 1J5

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Day #1 & Day #2 in Japan [Narita]

The 23 days that I spent in Japan was absolutely amazing; one that I will always remember for years to come. I got back into Toronto about 2 weeks ago, and slowly working on my blog posts about my vacation. I started my itinerary about one month prior to my trip and I am happy to say that I managed to complete at least 85% of the things that were on the list.

I was talking to a few friends of mine who are interested in going to the Japan in the future, and they wanted to see my itinerary and planning. So I have decided to post up a small guide for anyone who is interested as well, and hope that it will somewhat help in their planning (coming soon)!!

Tues, Dec 10, 2013 (Day #1)

My boyfriend and I landed at Narita International Airport (NRT) on December 10, 2013 around 3:30 pm. Going through customs and baggage claim didn't take as long as I thought; about 30 minutes or so. However, we were both exhausted from our 13.5 hour flight, and was pretty much starving. So we decided to go to the food court located on the 5th floor of the airport with a fellow passenger whom we were seated next to on the plane.

Since we were in Japan and will be eating a lot of Japanese food in the days to come. I decided to order some pad thai at a place called Jai Thai located on the 5th floor (terminal 1). The shrimp pad thai was ¥1000 and the glass bottle of coke was ¥250. The noodles were decent except that the pad thai dish wasn't spicy at all, even though there was a pepper sign beside the item on the menu.

We finished our meal and went upstairs to catch the complimentary shuttle bus to our hotel, Mercure Narita Hotel. We quickly checked into the hotel, took a shower, and then went straight to bed due to our exhaustive state.

Wed, Dec 11, 2013 (Day #2)

Bayashi Ramen (lunch)

I was really surprised that I didn't suffer from jet lag after we landed as I was able to wake up at 10 am the next morning.

So anyways, we woke up around 10 am and got ready to explore the downtown area of Narita. The first thing that was on my list to explore was the shopping street, Omotesando. Luckily, it was only a 5-10 minutes walk from our hotel. We started walking towards it when we came across a small ramen shop called Bayashi Ramen.

The menu had a small selection of ramen, fried rice dishes, appetizers, and drinks, and all are reasonably priced too. Their customers consist of both locals and tourists, so I was very glad that they were able to provide an English menu.

I ordered fried rice with chicken and small salad (¥800) and a side order of deep-fried gyoza (¥420). I really enjoyed the fried rice but some pieces of the gyoza were slightly burnt on the bottom. Overall, it was a very filling meal and a good way to start the day.

red chili pepper soup noodle topped with sliced pork (¥980)

Address: 533-9, Hanazakicho, Narita city
Hours: 11:00 am to 8:30 pm
Transit: A 5-10 minutes walk from Keisei Narita Station
Payments: Cash only.


The Omotesando is a pathway between JR Narita Station and Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. It is a shopping street full of vendors and restaurants, and they normally open until 5:00 pm. We went into the nearest souvenir shop, and bought a couple of things for family and friends. Most of the key chains and charms were on par with the prices found at Narita Airport which were between ¥350 to ¥600 each item.

The mascot for the city of Narita is an airplane crossed with an eel named Unari-kun. His name is inspired by both the Narita International Airport and Unagi (grilled eel) which is a local food here. There are several souvenirs available with the mascot imprinted on them.

Compared to the Omotesando that I have visited in other cities; I found this one to be rather quiet. We explored the area around mid morning to afternoon so I am assuming that people were working or attending school; hence why the area wasn't crowded at all. Tokyo wasn't like that this at all; it was crazy packed at all hours of the day and night, but I'll blog more about that later on.

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

 Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple is a large Buddhist temple founded in the mid-10th century and dedicated to Fudomyo-o. It is located a short walk from the Omotesando street in Narita, Japan. The temple grounds are free to explore, and it was a spectacular view to me. I was amazed at the structural design of the three-storied pagoda. If you happen to be in Narita, and have some free time, then this is a great temple to check out. 

Address: 1 Narita, Narita-shi, Chiba
Hours: 24/7
Fee: Free 
Transit: It is 15 a minute walk from JR Narita Station or Keiseinarita Station.

 The Sōmon entrance at the front of Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple.

 Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple (Great Main Hall).

Three-storied pagoda.

Shotoku Taishi Hall.

AEON Narita Shopping Center

Aeon Mall is a large shopping mall located in the heart of Narita; it boasts over 160 shops. If you want to drop by the mall from the airport, there are direct shuttle buses that takes you straight to Aeon Mall.

Address: 24, Wing Tsuchiya, Narita, Chiba. 286-0029, Japan
Hours: 9 am to 10 pm
Transit: Take the train to Keisei Narita Station, and go outside to board a pink colored Aeon Mall bus that depart every 10-2 minutes. The ride costs ¥200 per person.


Since we were already at the Aeon Narita Mall; we decided to stop by Saizeriya for dinner, and then head back to the hotel to rest. Saizeriya is a chain Italian restaurant with multiple locations throughout Japan. They specialize in providing Italian cuisine for the family. The prices are amazing for its value and the food was really good for a chain restaurant. I was very surprised that they had a separate non-smoking and smoking areas, as there is no smoking indoors allowed in Canada. This turned out to be a very common thing in Japan, and smoking in restaurants is more than acceptable.

Address: 1st floor inside of Aeon Narita Mall
Hours: 10:00 am to 11 pm (LO is 10:30 pm)
Payments: Cash and credit cards are accepted

 The logo outside of the restaurant.

 Salad with sliced porchetta (¥499).

We order three orders of grilled mussels with veggie salsa (¥399 each) separately as wanted them to be hot from the kitchen.

Both of us got an order each of seafood spaghetti with tomato and cream (¥499 x 2). It was a simple dish but it was delicious nonetheless. For 1 salad, 3 appetizers, 2 main courses, and 2 drinks; the total was only ¥3000 (there's no tipping as the Japanese don't practice this customary).

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