Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kinton Ramen - Toronto, ON

Back in Edmonton, I rarely walk anywhere if I can help it. Not so much because of laziness, but because there is nothing to look at and distract from the monotony of the walk. But staying in Toronto's Chinatown, there was never any shortage of new things to look at and I found myself preoccupied with reading storefront menus and people watching as I made the thirty minute walk from my accommodations to work each morning. My commute made me realize just how many ramen shops have popped up in the last few years - I passed Santouka, Sansotei, and Kenzo Ramen in my stretch of Dundas Street alone. For a non-Torontonian, it can be a bit of a difficult decision when trying to decide where to go to satisfy a sudden ramen craving.

Kinton Ramen is a relative newcomer, having opened in Baldwin Village only a year ago. In that time, it has managed to stir up considerable buzz, making BlogTO's list of the Best New Restaurants 2012 and attracting a huge lineup at last month's NoodleFest. Even though we arrived past 9:00, we were still told it would be a 40 minute wait. Unfortunately for those who don't wish to wait around, if you are not around when your name is called, your table will be quickly given away. Kinton Ramen will also only seat full parties, so be warned if you have notorious latecomers among your numbers.

Kinton Ramen has a similar interior to most other Toronto ramen spots. It is a small space with simple wooden tables and chairs, and diners are seated communally in whatever fashion will make for the least empty seats. The open kitchen is located along one wall, allowing diners to watch the chefs at work and the chefs to yell greetings as you leave. The menu is fairly small, with only four soup bases (miso, salt, soy, and spicy garlic). The rest of the ramen options are simply variations on the toppings. Nhi chose the miso ramen with pork shoulder while I chose the cheese ramen with pork belly. You are given the choice of rich or light broth, and though I always prefer richer broths, the waitress strongly discouraged me from pairing my cheese ramen with it.

The cheese ramen came with a huge mound of grated swiss cheese sitting on top. The light miso broth actually had good flavor and was not too salty, while the noodles had a chewy texture owing to their thickness. There was a sizeable portion of pork belly, although it was weirdly cut into bacon-like strips. The real disappointment here was the cheese, which took away from my enjoyment of my meal rather than adding anything. I am all for fusion food and for incorporating new ingredients, but the way it was done by Kinton just seemed so lazy. The amount of cheese was completely disproportionate to the amount of noodles, and as a result I ended up removing a significant portion of it. The cheese melted in rubbery clumps in the soup, and the Swiss flavor did not supplement the broth well at all.

Nhi's miso ramen with rich broth fared better. The rich broth had a meatier taste than the light broth, but I actually preferred the light broth which tasted more balanced.

Service at Kinton Ramen could certainly stand to improve. It was hard to flag down the waitress, as she always seemed to be in a rush. Knowing that there are people waiting, and with all the bustle around, Kinton is better suited for a quick meal than a relaxed dinner. Overall, I thought Kinton Ramen was average, certainly no better than any of the ramen joints on Dundas Street in terms of product or service. I was really disappointed by the cheese ramen, and would probably avoid Kinton Ramen in the future just based on that experience. 

Top Pick of the Night: Miso Ramen

3/5 Erics

Kinton Ramen on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment