Ramen Raijin's frozen ramen (Toronto) for delivery

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

Before COVID, when someone mentions “instant ramen”, a square of hard dried noodles is what comes to mind. That goes into a pot of boiling water for about five minutes and a powdered soup gets prepared, sometimes enhanced with another packet of dried seaweed and vegetables. Many are spicy, but you’ll need to find a delicate balance of the soup base to water… one false move will leave you with a kick at the back of the throat. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I literally cough when too much powder is added.

Then COVID hit and Ramen Raijin reinvented the concept of instant ramen. Theirs is a frozen circular disk that literally incorporates everything – the broth, noodles, and various toppings that are a far cry from the rehydrated vegetable fragments. In about the same time it takes to boil water to create the dried version, the frozen disk goes into a pot until it melts and is heated through.

And there’s no guessing games with Raijin’s spicy tonkotsu ramen ($12). The spicy-miso pork broth has enough chili to flood your mouth with flavours, but the fiery finish is subdued, and the miso adds a lovely creamy finish.

Perhaps it was all the tightly packed vegetables (corn, slivers of cabbage, bean sprouts, and green onions) and the extra minced chicken mixed into the soup base, but the spicy tonkotsu did take a couple minutes longer to prepare than the non-spicy version so the noodles ended up being a less chewy than the other.

The noodles in the Hakata tonkotsu ramen ($10) turned out perfectly and Raijin’s Hakata-style rich pork broth was just as creamy and umami laced as anything you’d find at a restaurant. Something about the freezing process makes me like the pickled ginger more, it’s mellower and melts into the broth nicely. It’s all finished with a rather thin slice of pork belly cha-shu, kikurage mushroom, green onion, and enough sesame to add a nutty finish to the soup.

Will the frozen ramen overtake the delivery and takeout options across the city? While close to the “real deal” they are still missing some of the beloved toppings like a gooey onsen egg and the crispy fresh toppings that can make it sing. The additional garnishes are easy – you can easily get a dried seaweed snack pack and finely chop scallions – but the elusive egg is more difficult. Raijin provides a recipe with the order confirmation to allow home cooks to recreate them at home. But all the work for one or two eggs … let’s just call me lazy.

To augment the meal, as the lone slice of cha shu isn’t the most substantial, Raijin offers extra pork or a host of frozen appetizers, some care of Zakkushi on Carlton just down the street. The yakitori momo ($8.50) goes bag and all into boiling water for five minutes and then you’re presented with four skewers of juicy chicken yakitori. The sauce is waterier than the lovely glaze you’ll normally find at restaurants, but in a pinch these will do.

Before placing an order, ensure your freezer has some room as for deliveries there’s a minimum $50 order size (about five ramen) and a $7 delivery fee. If you create that room if your freezer, the delivery fee is waived for a $100 purchase.

I love and value the ingenuity entrepreneurs have shown during this crisis. Dried instant ramen, you’ve been disrupted. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 24 Wellesley Street West
 Delivery: store delivery

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!

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