Kinton Ramen 4 (North York)

Location: North York, Canada
Address: 5165 Yonge Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

If line-ups aren’t your thing, head to Kinton Ramen’s North York location after 10pm. At the later hour, plenty of tables available but there's still enough people mingling that it doesn’t feel empty.

Kinton’s fourth location offers a combo menu made up of a ramen, side dish and drink. Being a financially savvy person, I had to analyze the pricing to see whether it's actually a deal. My verdict is that although you save money, the savings of a $1 is negligible thus fairly worthless. Strangely, the lack of savings is due to Kinton charging more for the side dish as part of the combo than off their regular menu. Thus, this works to negate savings from adding a drink. In the brackets below, I list the combo and a la carte menu prices as a means of comparison.

I stuck with the pork original ramen ($10.90 for both combo and a la carte menu) as a means of comparing the uptown recipe to their Baldwin outpost (you can read about experience with the later here). Made with a shio (salt) base, I went with ‘regular’ strength as I found the ‘light’ one too watery. It was nice, not too salty or oily and had a light pork flavour coming through. So, it’s worth trying the regular first before you opt for the lighter choice.

The thick noodles were just a springy and the pork shoulder having a smoky quality as I enjoyed in my last visit. There’s also bean sprouts, green onions, a piece of nori and my favourite – the egg. Kinton still gives a full egg and at the North York location it’s even more soft-boiled, just look at the gooey brilliant yellow colour!

During another visit, I tried the spicy garlic ramen ($10.90) which really packs some heat in the broth. Following my friend's advice, I removed the ball of garlic on top and gradually added it into the broth to control how garlicky the broth became. In the end, about a third was enough for my taste.

Accompanying the combo, was a pint of Sapporo ($3.80 for combo vs. $5.80 on the a la carte menu). And this, my friends, is where any of the savings actually occurs.

The gyozas ($4.80 for combo vs. $3.80 on the a la carte menu) were deep fried arriving piping hot. Interestingly, they were topped with a zippy Miracle Whip sauce rather than being accompanied by soy sauce. It’s a nice change, but Kinton should consider listing the sauce on their menu as some people may be put off by the creamy sauce if they were expecting naked dumplings.

I wanted to know more about said sauce, but our waiter was no help: simply noting he didn’t know what was in it. Frankly, for a place where there’s such a limited menu, it’s sad for someone who works there to actually tell a customer they know nothing about the dishes. At the very least, they should offer to check with the chef or someone else who would know what’s being served.

Which brings me to the biggest difference between Kinton’s Baldwin and North York location – the service. Sure, everyone still shouts as you enter/leave, dishes arrive quickly and generally everyone is cheerful and friendly. But, it’s the small things that are not quite as polished.

The first, as already mentioned, is the lack of knowledge of their menu (at least the person who served us that night). Another example, was when soup was spilled as the table was cleared. Our waiter warned us about the spill (that he caused) but then chose to ignore it rather than cleaning it up. Normally, it wouldn’t matter. However, in this case, the soup was dangerously close to the edge of the table and could drip onto my fellow diner. Moreover, since all our napkins were taken away, we couldn’t even clean it up ourselves.

All in all, the slight service slip aside, I was satisfied with the food. Indeed, compared to other options available in the Yonge and Empress area, the ramen is better. Thankfully, the taste and quality is in line with Kinton’s downtown location; the serving size may even be slightly larger. If only their employees were better trained and their combo pricing strategy reevaluated than I’d be even happier.

Overall mark - 7* out of 10

* You may notice that I’ve given Kinton’s Baldwin location a “6” and the North York location a “7”.  The uptown location is by no means better than its downtown location. But, due to the uptown branch being so conveniently located and wait times being less than Downtown, I know I will likely return (thus, rendering the 6 as untrue).

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!