Showing posts with label Noodles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Noodles. Show all posts

Yunxi Handmade Noodles (Toronto)

If mom and pop restaurants are your jam, Yunxi Handmade Noodles will have you swooning as it’s an intimate establishment. Technically, Yunxi would be considered a mom restaurant as the female owner acts as the Jill of all trades: hostess, chef, server, and cleaner. She’s a sweet lady describing what was freshly prepared for the day (in my case, the noodles) as she rotates between making noodles and preparing dumplings daily.

The broth of the braised beef noodles ($14.99) was salty and strong, as one should expect from a dish that’s essentially beef braised in soy sauce. I liked that Yunxi finishes the freshly made noodles in the soup to allow it to soak in flavours and develop a brownish tint. While there wasn’t a whole lot of beef, the handful of chunks were lean and tender.

Halfway through the meal, the owner returns with a small bowl of extra noodles, asking if we’d like a complementary top-up. Why of course, and into the bowl they go for round two.

My first choice in dumplings (leek, shrimp, and pork) was sold out so we opted for the chicken and mushroom instead ($10.99 for 12). With a choice of preparation - steamed, boiled, or pan fried – I generally order them steamed as I find this leaves the dumplings the most neutral so you can appreciate the filling’s flavours and the consistency of the wrapper.

Unlike the noodles, the dumplings were made previously (at least a couple of days prior) so the wrapper was too hard and chewy. Consequently, I’d recommend asking the owner when things were prepared and if it isn’t fresh, order the dumplings boiled to give the wrapper some extra hydration.

At least the filling was juicy – use a spoon to ensure the juices aren’t lost as they squirt out – and the dumplings were filled with a decent portion of the well seasoned, finely minced chicken and mushrooms.

Yunxi Handmade Noodles is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall: the décor is sparse and the communal steel spoons housed at each table seem unhygienic. Luckily, larger ladles were given after serving the braised noodles so we didn’t need to rely on the dubious spoons. Yet, what Yunxi lacks was more than made up by the friendly owner and the wonderful noodles, a definite highlight to our meal. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4002 Sheppard Ave East
 


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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


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MIMI Chinese (Toronto)


Gathering dishes from across the country, MIMI Chinese's menu showcases the different flavours and ingredients in China's Sichuan, Guangdong, Hunan, Shaanxi, and Canton provinces. Think of it as a crash course on figuring out what you like as you dig into the fiery chilies of Sichuan or the saucier multi-flavour dishes from Guangdong. The educational experience is held in a dark dining room on comfortable plush banquettes with dishes featuring traditional spices and preparations so you can expect to taste authentic interpretations.

The crossed arm dumplings in red oil ($26) may sound like a starter for grumpy old men, but is named after the way the  wonton wrappers are folded and the two tips meet. Having made many dumplings in my youth, this style is much quicker to prepare, compared to the pleated variety, and also allows more filling to be used.  


Indeed, each thumb length dumpling at MIMI was stuffed with plenty of the pork and scallion mixture, which could have used more seasonings such as Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, or soy sauce. Maybe it's due to the thicker wrappers or there not being much heat within the "red oil" condiment, but the dish was rather devoid of flavours despite the colourful look. The oil is described as roasted chicken oil, which leads me to believe they use the leftover oil from deep frying chickens to make this condiment, something that sounds great in theory. In reality, it doesn't add much additional flavour and really the oil could benefit from more chilies and something pungent like shallots. 

I can't recall that last time I had shrimp toast ($21 for four pieces; $5.50 for extras), but I must have been young as this dish has been removed from dim sum menus as customers become more health cautious. Pieces of soft white bread sandwich a mild shrimp paste and is deep fried and topped with a sesame crust. The crispy toast was bang on - the crunchy exterior and slight leak of oil is reminiscent of childhood memories. 


Since MIMI uses two pieces of bread (restaurants previously used an open-faced sandwich format), the carbs did drown out the shrimp taste. The toast could benefit from more filling or incorporating pieces of diced shrimp in order to give it a stronger seafood essence. 

The scallion and ginger sea bass ($59) uses white leek but lacks ginger making it a fairly neutral main. The soy sauce and scallion oil is poured table side instead of directly from wok to dish, which while nice for presentation purposes, means it lacks the "scalding" properties that crisps the skin a bit and causes the sauce to more deeply permeate the meat. All in all, it was a pretty plain tasting dish and is for those who really want to enjoy the fish's flavours - at least it was well cleaned and tasted fresh. 


For those who are afraid of bones, this dish is perfect as everything is pretty much removed (all I found was one really thin small piece). While the lack of bones makes it much easier to eat, it does mean the fish cools quicker, so be sure to tuck into it right after the sauce is poured.  

Presented at the table with a flourish was the four foot belt noodle ($26), stretched to showcase its length before being cut into more manageable two inch segments. While not a terrible dish, the noodle could be thinner as we found it a tad chewy and the sauce needed something else for interest. Although the noodle was covered with a fair amount of chili oil, a salty richer flavour like bean paste or a complex XO sauce would have been a great addition. 



I preferred the supreme fried rice ($28), filled with umami flavours thanks to the dried scallop, salted egg, and lap cheong sausage. These ingredients do make the rice a tad dry, which MIMI ties to combat by adding diced vegetables and scallions into the dish. Really, I think if there was just more rice to mix with all the other ingredients it would provided the needed moisture.


Their vegetable dishes are fairly plain (stir fried gai lan or cabbage), we decided to try the chilled pumpkin and snow melon ($10), which are ribbons of the squashes tossed with Shaoxing broth. For those who can't handle spice, this would help counteract the heat of other dishes. For us, we found it almost seemed out of place and dessert-like due to the sweet after taste.


Be sure to listen to their feature dishes, we ordered both and they were my favourite of the evening. 

The Cantonese chicken ($28) is your traditional fried chicken with shrimp chips. It was executed perfectly at MIMI: the skin delicate and crispy, the meat very juicy, and there wasn't an ounce of pink on the bone (something that can be found at Chinese restaurants and make some squeamish).


I loved how the kitchen took the razor clams ($26) and chopped it to pieces and mixed it with wine, garlic, vermicelli, and other herbs before steaming the crustacean. With each bite you get different flavours and textures, a lovely seafood special. 


Being Chinese, I'm probably more difficult to impress as I've had so many experiences in my lifetime that there's often a comparable or better version of a dish previously eaten. While some dishes were a little bland for my taste, how the ingredients were prepared and the dishes executed were fantastic. What is also great about MIMI is their approachability and friendly service, a quality that can sometimes be lacking at Chinese restaurants.   

I can already imagine the pundits' responses: there's nothing special about the dishes and you can find them cheaper elsewhere. There is truth to this statement, the dishes aren't "westernized" and presented in the traditional format, albeit with more attention to plating. And the menu prices are much higher than the casual family establishments and still more than the banquet style restaurants. However, applaud MIMI for keeping with traditions and to allow customers, who may be hesitant to visit a Chinese restaurant, to try dishes that are not the General Tao variety they might have otherwise. As for the prices, just be mindful about their Yorkville rent and the higher labour costs (there were a lot of servers, all of whom are fluent in English). 

MIMI likely won't be the place your mom, dad, or grandparents will be love, but it is where you bring your friends who want to expand their taste bud experience beyond the Cantonese-focused menus that are typical in Toronto. It's where they will be able to try items from a variety of regions and they won't need your help interpreting the menu or translating. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and eat. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 265 Davenport Road


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


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Kinton Ramen (Toronto) for delivery

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

Over February, exclusive 3-course and group specials have made its way onto Kinton Ramen’s menu, just in time to warm us up in this cold weather. The meal for two ($27.99) arrives with two ramen, an order of gyoza, and pop that can be upgraded to beer ($2 a can) – you bet we did the upgrade. I would have liked the ability to choose/upgrade the side dish as the citrusy sweet glaze slathered on the gyoza ($4.50 by itself) is not for me. In general, Kinton’s dumplings aren’t the greatest; after scraping off the sauce what’s left is bland, the filling lacking texture and flavour.

In the mood for some heat, the pork spicy garlic ramen ($12.95 for just the noodles) certainly hit the spot – right to the back of the throat as you sip the flavourful fragrant broth. The thick noodles went perfectly with it and stayed chewy despite not being consumed right away.

In hindsight, the ramen could have used some extra toppings as the base was nothing more than just the garlic, a few slices of pork, and a sprinkling of scallion. I would have like something crunchy, like bean sprouts, and a mound of sweet corn to balance out the spice. Note to self: add-ons are key.

My husband was on the right track elevating his bowl with the karaage pork original (additional $3.50 with the combo; $16.45 for just the noodles). I assumed it would be a soggy bust, but the four thick pieces of crispy pork still had a bit of crunch and was oh so juicy. Even as it sat in the broth and the batter soaked in the creamy pork soup, it still tasted good. Way to go Kinton, this karaage ramen is delicious!

Overall, we were just impressed with how well the ramen held up with delivery. After re-heating the broth (a key step for enjoying ramen at home) and placing everything into a glass bowl, it tasted like we were right there in the restaurant - sitting at a high top or the bar and tucking into the hot noodles with a buzz around us. I sense this will become a favourite of ours during the winter, something to keep us warm and cozy.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: Various locations
 Delivery: Uber, Doordash, Skip the Dishes
Referral Discount Codes
 Support the blog by using my referral code
 UberEats: use eats-ju6ta to get $5 off a $15 order 
 SkipTheDishes: click link to get $5 off a $15 order
 DoorDash: click link to get $20 off

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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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Choice of the Orient (Richmond Hill) for takeout


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

My husband’s officially another year older, and the occasion also marks our annual dinner from Choice of the Orient (COTO).

Sadly, his favourite dish, the Peking chicken ($13.95), was the worst of the meal. It’s an item  that doesn’t travel well, not because it becomes soggy – typically, it’s not crispy anyways, since it’s slathered in a thick sweet sauce – but rather because it’s made from lean chicken breast that’s cut into thick chunks, which after being sealed in a hot container for half an hour becomes SO overdone. My suggestion to COTO is consider cutting these thinner so that even overcooked they’re not quite as tough.

Not being a fan of things like lemon chicken, the orange beef ($13.50) had the same repulsive citrusy meat taste I detest. Nonetheless, I tried a piece and once the fruity flavour subsided, the spicy savoury sauce that was left behind was actually quite tasty.

Give me the beef with Chinese broccoli ($13.50) any day! Wok tossed with some oyster sauce, the dish doesn’t taste like it’s mixed with dish soap and there’s so much of the tender gai lan crammed into the container.

Unlike chow mein, the noodles in the mixed vegetables lo mein ($11.95) are left soft, which you would think is better for delivery. Except, it gets so soft that the dish has no texture at all. Thankfully, we had gotten an order of moo shu pork and the leftover filling went perfectly with the noodles, adding crunch and extra flavours that the lo mein was lacking.

COTO provides four large pancakes with their moo shu pork ($11.95) - you can really stuff these to the brim. Nonetheless, there was plenty of the wok hay laced filling leftover, a delicious addition to other dishes like the lo mein and fried rice.

Despite the chicken fried rice ($8.50) being such a rich hue, the soy taste was rather weak. On its own the dish is too bland, but considering it’s generally eaten in lieu of steamed rice, I can see why it’s left neutral so that it doesn’t become too salty once you add saucy dishes on top.

Choice of the Orient has been a mainstay in Richmond Hill since the late 1980s and the go-to place for my better half’s friends and family when they wanted Chinese food. While it’s not my top choice, I’ve got to give COTO credit, there’s not that many places that have garnered customer loyalty like them. And given the amount of business they had on a weeknight, they’re still going strong.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Richmond Hill, Canada
 Address: 9555 Yonge Street
 Delivery: store delivery, Uber, Doordash, Skip the Dishes
Referral Discount Codes
 Support the blog by using my referral code
 UberEats: use eats-ju6ta to get $5 off a $15 order 
 SkipTheDishes: click link to get $5 off a $15 order
 DoorDash: click link to get $20 off

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Planta Queen (Toronto)



I don’t often have sushi in a restaurant whose menu isn’t entirely Japanese, but Planta Queen’s nigiri is so inventive that you should try it once. As the ahi watermelon ($5.25 for two) and unagi eggplant ($5.25 for two) are placed before us, I’m marveled by how much they look like lean tuna and mackerel. In reality, the consistency and taste doesn’t resemble fish – the watermelon has a strong ginger flavour and the eggplant a slight smokiness – yet, it also doesn’t taste like the fruit or vegetable it’s made from. It just works!


The ahi watermelon makes its way into the rainbow roll ($15) and spicy tuna roll ($15) as well. Of the two, the rainbow roll has more interest: the soft pressed watermelon paired with creamy avocado and mayo, crispy romaine, and a sliver of bright shiso leaf. The spicy tuna roll is fine, but relies a lot on the spicy aioli for flavour.


You wouldn’t want an entire order of gomae ($12.25) for yourself. Even though it’s essentially just boiled spinach tossed in a sesame dressing with crisped rice thrown on top, the nutty sauce is also what makes it fairly rich as well. Yet, when shared, it’s a nice way to start the meal or even to finish off with something refreshing.  


On the other hand, I could easily down an entire bowl of the mushroom dashi ($8.95). It’s everything you want during the winter: a warm bowl of rich consommé, enoki and shiitake mushrooms peppered throughout, and cubes of delicate tofu sitting at the bottom. It’s simple and heavenly.


Planta’s Hakka rice noodles ($17.50) doesn’t really taste like anything I’ve ever had at a Hakka restaurant, but it could easily grace the menu of a Thai establishment. The coconut green curry base has a lovely aroma and a hint of heat, but could use more salt. As it stands, the dish of rice noodles with tofu and Chinese broccoli (gai lan) was fine but didn’t overly excite.


The udon ($18.75) was a hundred times better. In this case, the rice noodles (since we were having the gluten free version) was tossed in truffle oil and coconut milk creating a creamy base that would make Alfredo weep. There’s no shortage of mushrooms in the dish and is finished off with some snow pea leaves for colour and freshness. Would this dish paired with a bowl of mushroom dashi be too much fungi for one person to handle? Challenge accepted.


In general, Planta Queen uses a lot of truffles, whether it be the infused oil or the real deal. Even the maitake mushroom fried rice ($28) comes with shaved truffle on top, which truthfully doesn’t add that much to the experience. Overall, I expected the dish to offer more – something bursting with wok hay and an umami essence galore. Instead, it was pretty average fried rice with shaved truffles on top.


After the heavier mains, we thought the lemon curd ($12.35) would be a lighter finish to the meal. It certainly was a refreshing end, but the combination of lemon custard with passion fruit gelato makes for such a tarte finish that I’m puckering up thinking of the bite. The meringue needed to be sweeter and the matcha powder dropped all together as the combination of acidic citrus with bitter powder wasn’t necessarily the greatest.



For those who are celiac, you’d be happy to know every dish in this post is celiac friendly and vegan. Planta Queen certainly has an impressive menu of options for various food sensitivities. Best yet, they’re actually tasty and makes you realize that Asian food could easily forgo all the meat, eggs, and gluten and still be fantastic. Mushroom dashi, until we meet again.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 180 Queen Street West 

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


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Buddhist Vegetarian Kitchen 佛海齋廚 (Toronto)


My first taste of Chinese vegetarian cuisine was from Buddhist Vegetarian Kitchen, a cozy casual restaurant tucked in a dated but nonetheless well-trafficked plaza in Scarborough. Things have changed: lunches were busier in my childhood, whereas on a recent visit there was no wait despite it being the weekend; and things were drenched in oil, while now they show restraint.

What stayed constant is their low prices and simple but satisfying dishes. Do not visit without getting a plate of the vegetarian “dim sum” (the small pictured for $4.50), which is deceiving as it’s not really the steamed dumplings synonymous with dim sum. Rather, they are pieces of gluten and tofu, prepared in different manners (braised, fried, steamed) and flavoured with various sauces (sweet soy, curry, sweet and sour) all served warm to munch on at the beginning of the meal. This is the “it dish” for the place. In fact, you’ll see many people visit just to get this as take out.


The stuffed bean curd skin ($4.50) was one of my favorite dishes, but sadly the recipe has changed. While they’re less oily, it’s now deep fried instead of pan fried so there’s no difference in texture on the wrapper (I loved having the contrasting crispy and silky bites of the past). The filling, which was hot and plentiful in the past, is now stingy and lacks all the different vegetables and fungus that gave it the interesting flavours.


Buddhist Vegetarian Kitchen’s soups are all a combination of bean curd, vegetable, corn and bamboo - the sweet corn soup with vegetable and bean curd ($4.50 for small) is one that offers three of the four ingredients. It’s a simple concoction made with a semi thick cream corn base with tons of tofu and bits of mushrooms mixed in. It’s tasty, but a few chopped green onions would help add some colour.


There seems to be a lot more noodles to choose from. The curry fried version with vegetarian pork ($8.95) is available wet or dry. We opted for wet, which wasn’t overly watery, but had enough sauce so that each strand had some slightly sweet curry sauce (sounds odd but actually works) covering it. Tossed well in the wok, it’s a dish that develops a great aroma.


The fried noodle with mixed vegetables ($9.25) is a traditional favourite, the crispy wonton noodles topped with a mix of vegetables (baby corn, snow peas), mushrooms, black fungus, and gluten pieces. The noodles have the perfect mix of crispy edges and a softer centre that soaks in the oyster sauce. They’re just as good as I remembered.


Stay away from the hot and sour noodles ($5.50), which were far too bland for a dish that’s meant to be punches of flavour – it was neither, spicy, sour, or even salty enough. The noodles were also soggy, making the dish a major flop even after we tried to salvage it with the condiments at the table.


It’s nice when a vegetarian restaurant offers simple vegetables as well. Their A choy with fermented tofu ($9.95) could be cooked a touch less so the stalks remain crispier, but they were well-flavoured without being too salty.


Service is definitely not their strongest feature, but it’s hardly the servers’ fault as they also act as prep cooks – de-stemming mushrooms, chopping vegetables, and cubing tofu… it’s all part of the job. So, at key points of the meal where you need to order or get the bill, just go find them or be patient.

Where servers do excel is knowing dishes well enough to offer their honest opinion. We tried to order the curry vegetarian pork with rice and she simply noted that we should reconsider as they don’t taste good together (despite it being an option). So, it was because of this frank advice we switched to noodles instead, which were a tasty combination.

Sadly, it’s not often I get to re-visit places I dined at as a child. But tucking into a plate of Buddhist Vegetarian Kitchen’s “dim sum” or noodles brings me back to the past. Whatever the restaurant lacks in with décor and service, it’s fully made up with the memories and the feeling of nostalgia. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3290 Midland Avenue

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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The Buddhist Vegetarian Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Daikaya (Washington)


On the ground floor of Daikaya sits their ramen bar – a few booths and communal tables where diners can enjoy a bowl of noodles, small eats, and a drink. A process that starts and ends in about 45 minutes.

Even as I was ordering the mugi-miso ramen ($14) I had a feeling I should just stick with the shio (where the soup is simply seasoned with salt). But, the description on the miso was so detailed heralding “savory aromatics” and reassured me that it would be “lighter than a traditional miso”. Surely, if I was only going to dine at Daikaya once, I’d have to sample their signature dish.

The first spoon of broth was good, it was certainly rich in flavours, but wasn’t oily like some ramen bases. Then, after a handful of sips, it became too salty… by the end, I simply ate the noodles and whatever soup clung to them. The noodles also could be better. At the beginning, it starts off chewy but really softens in ten minutes. They should consider plating them less cooked so that the springy bite continues throughout the meal. To combat the softer noodles, they could have also left the bean sprouts rawer, to add more crunch.


There’s plenty of meat in the bowl: slices of tender chashu and also ground pork strewn throughout so they end up working itself into the noodles. Bits of green onion and, strangely, white onion is added for a bit of freshness. Ramen just isn’t the same without a soft boiled egg, so it was added ($1.50) and at Daikaya arrives with the lovely lava-like orange molten centre.


The ramen was so substantial we really didn’t need the gyozas ($5.50), which incorporates a dark crust, thin wrapper, and plenty of filling. Sampling it after the salty broth does means the dumpling tastes rather bland.


I really need to, quite literally, trust my gut when ordering food. After hearing all the praise for Daikaya, it was a shame I may have ordered the wrong soup base that’s caused the experience to be less exceptional. At least we arrived early enough on Sunday to avoid the wait (11am for those who want to replicate). Always look on the bright side.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Washington, USA
 Address: 705 6th Street NW 

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Daikaya Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Raku (Toronto)


Right after my first bite of Raku’s udon noodles, I knew I would be back within a month. It didn’t matter that summer was approaching or that the appetizers were merely satisfactory, that bowl of hot comforting broth and silky chewy noodles was something special.

For my first visit, I kept it simple with the nameko ($16) where it arrives with a clear refreshing broth that’s still richly flavoured so it’s like you’re sipping on consommé. The bits of delicate Nagasaki nameko mushrooms were perfectly paired with the soup and I finished it to the last drop.


Adding on a poached egg ($2), it arrives on the side to keep it from cooking more but also means it’s absolutely cold. I threw it back into the hot soup to attempt to warm it up a bit, but at least it was done quite nicely where the insides were solid but still has a bit of runniness to it.


But, it’s the noodles… oh that udon … that makes me realize I should have added an extra serving to the bowl ($3). While most udon is cylindrical, these are oval. Maybe it’s something to do with this slightly flattened shape, but it has such a lovely silky texture while still incorporating a chewiness that’s retained to the last bite.


The broth is also amazing and what makes Raku different is that with so many options, the soup actually varies as well. Having a sip of my friend’s bowl, the niku ($20) is salty and beefy complementing the short ribs and tripe. It’s one you’ll like if you enjoy Shanghai braised beef noodles.

On a follow-up visit, I went completely in the other direction with the kani ankake ($26) where the broth is made of a thickened egg drop soup with pieces of crab strewn throughout. It’s a bowl for those who are sensitive to salt as I found it much blander than the other soups. I was really hoping for something savoury but all the toppings – spinach, scallions, and even the crab – were also rather tepidly flavoured.


Maybe it was the mochi ($4) I added to the bowl… it just sounded so intriguing that I had to try it! The two large rectangles of rice cake were soft and sticky, but really doesn’t go with this soup. I can see it working really well with the tan tan noodles: topping one of the cubes with my friend’s spicy miso pork really helped to give it a much needed saltiness.


Raku also offers a great selection of appetizers to tide you over as the noodles arrive. Of course, there’s the traditional gyozas ($8). The wrapper is nice and thin and arrives with a lovely crust. However, both the vegetable and pork ones are too delicate for my liking. The vegetable filling is made from micro finely shredded vegetables that would be better if they incorporated some meaty mushrooms. Meanwhile, the pork was forgettable and needed something (chives or scallions) to give it pizzazz.


Truthfully, it could be the ordering of the apps, since after having a piece of the chewy smoked atsugiri bacon ($8) anything could taste bland. While at first I thought it was strange to eat… literally, it’s thick slivers of well roasted slightly sweet bacon. Washing it down with a sip of Sapporo I understand the appeal – it goes remarkably well with the bubbly cold bitterness of beer.


For something lighter, their chicken tatsuta-age ($8) is very lightly battered, a bit crispy, but mostly juicy and tender. Or opt for cubes of agedashi tofu ($7), which are so light and pillowy that it almost feels like having a savoury marshmallow. It could use a bit more textual contrast as the generous layer of bonito flakes are also quite soft. At least it’s well flavoured sitting in plenty of sweet soy and garnished with scallions.


The yaki nasu ($8) is such an interesting starter: a thick slice of eggplant with a raw quail egg on top. Slice into the soft vegetable to allow the egg to meld into the hot eggplant and and spicy miso pork in the centre. This appetizer was not what I expected from deep fried eggplant, but delicious and really grew on me with each bite.


Raku continues to intrigue and delight with each visit. With their extensive menu, I feel like there’s still so many things to try. Will I ever get to the don buri or cold udon?! Those will be a hard, as their bowls of steaming chewy noodles are just way too delicious to pass up. 

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 456 Queen Street West
 Website: http://rakunyc.com/

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!


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