November 15, 2012

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (Toronto)

This post is fresh off the grill! I literally just came back from visiting Santouka and I want to be the first
to blog about it! I have to say, Toronto is on a ramen frenzy! Following the tail of Sansotei (please read review here and here) and Momofuko, here is Santouka. A ramen chain originated from Japan has various locations around the world. This is Santouka's second franchise in Canada, the first one being in Vancouver (they always get first dibs, not fair). Santouka opened last weekend with a soft opening and is building anticipation for it's grand opening Nov 23rd. During the soft opening, only a limited selection of the menu is available. The place is small like all ramen joints, seating only 23 hungry patrons.

Around 5:15pm, no lineup, yay!
Window display of Santouka's ramen replica. 
The below are the menu pages available during the soft opening. What's special about Santouka?Customers are given options. The option on the hardness of your noodle, the saltiness of the soup, the amount of lard and your portion size. +/- $1 you are able to go up a size or go down a size on your bowl of ramen. 


Another interesting aspect is that waitresses does not take your order on the plain old pen and paper but on an ipod touch/iphone 3 type of device. I'm interested in seeing if an order taking app is developed for use only at Santouka.

By the way, they provide little folders laundry type of baskets for your personal belongs since the space can get cramped.

Pigeon hole of chef assembling our delicious ramen. 
I order Shio Ramen with less salt. I don't tend to like Shoyu or Miso as I have low sodium tolerance. When the bowl of ramen came, I took a sip of the soup. Perfect level of saltiness and just the way I like it, creamy and flavorful. As for the noodle... it was PERFECT as well! It wasn't the white soft noodle Sansotei offered, but it was more like the noodle Kinton offered but better. However, I did find the the amount of oil floating on top to be too much, thus I will request for less lard next time.
Shio Ramen is 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. (from website)
As for the 2 slices of pork belly, I found the cut to be thick and uneven. I prefer my cut of pork belly to be thin where I am able to savour it all in one bite. The side toppings of the ramen needs improvement. I missed my soft boiled egg and julienne sliced black fungus and bamboo shoots. The bamboo shoots at Santouka appears to be the re-hydrated bamboo shoots and not the fresh ones.

Kara Miso Ramen
The review for the below ramen will be updated by the occasional contributor of this blog, RY. Please see review here.
Toroniku Ramen is our signature ramen which has the toppings served separately. Toroniku Cha-shu is simmered pork cheek (jowl) meat. Pork cheek meat is very rare and only 200-300g can be taken from each pig. It has a very rich flavour and it is tender like fatty tuna. (from website)
As of now, the fight for the king of ramen in Toronto is definitely between Sansotei and Santouka. Kinton, please step aside. Sansotei's tonkotsu broth is no doubt the best of Toronto with Santouka a close second. However, Sansotei's noodles are in the needs improvement department, and seems like the owners heard our voices and is now offering a choice noodle. I have to go back to try that option. Sansotei and Santouka are neck in neck in ramen race. To be honest, without having try Sansotei's new ramen option, overall Santouka is a winner for me. The soup, noodle and topping was good. It's a well executed bowl of ramen, the most well rounded bowl of ramen in Toronto.

***Update: 11/21/2012 - Revisited Sansotei, tried their thick noodle option, and I have made my decision. In terms of broth, noodle, toppings and value, Sansotei wins the ramen race in my book =) *** Please see here for update review on Sansotei.

Lineup at 6pm.
Anyways, Toronto's ramen frenzy doesn't stop here. Two more ramen joints are just around the corner and I will definitely try them all~

***NOVEMBER 23, 2012*** Passing by at around 6pm and this is what I saw...

Final Verdict: Slightly Above Par

Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon


  1. Great work getting this review out earlier than the rest of town!!
    Does sound like it helps to know what the options are beforehand, since it sounds very customizable. Thanks!

    1. Also, what's the twitter acct here?
      Wanted to add a mention to my tweet:

    2. Wow! You are so awesome! I think I finished my post at 10:25pm... Thank u for support! Definitely try this place out if u like ramen!

  2. The Kara Miso Cha-Shu Ramen is really good!! The texture of the noodle is firm and chewy. This ramen pairs it off with jelly ear, bamboo shoots and generous slices of cha-shu all soaked in mildy spicy miso broth. One suggestion is to order with less saltiness so as to enjoy the broth.

    Overall, this bowl of ramen is a clear winner compared to Sansotei's Tonkotsu ramen =)

    Definitely give this place a try sometimes!

    1. Looks like u are one step behind again, hahaha

    2. I checked in here the first thing when I got home!! >.<'' Oh, JL i wanted to say: ramen was mashisoyo!

    3. Hey JL, I think Raijin recently opened too. Not sure how popular or highly anticipated it is but check it out.

  3. Hmm, each to his or her own then. I definitely prefer Sansotei's egg and noodles to Santouka's but that shio broth is golden. First sip is salty but the aftertaste is sweet with hints of seafood. I found this broth to have more depth and subtlety than Sansotei's creamy liquid pork. I have no clear preference between the Santouka's pork jowl, Sansotei's belly or Kinton's belly: they're all very different cuts and taste.

    I don't think it's fair to compare the three either: one excels at tonkotsu and the other at shio. Kinton feels like it's on its own aiming for the junk ramen niche with its choice cheese, pork fat, butter and garlic toppings and their pure pork belly.

    BTW, I work in the area so I got a chance to try Santouka at lunch. The dozen or people waiting outside all spoke Cantonese, along with what must be half the patrons inside. It was kind of ridiculous to hear more canto than japanese.

    1. Well, there are a lot more Chinese speaking people than Japanese in GTA.

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