There was -- the Hokkaido Ramen Santouka restaurant just away from Dundas Square in downtown TO. Apparently the boss, one Hitoshi Hatanaka, ate a ramen meal with his family that was not to his taste and vowed to do it better himself. This was in Hokkaido and subsequently the Santouka Ramen franchise has mushroomed all over, including TO.
The premises are as you would expect, slick and clean but with really long lines outside (this was as we left not as we arrived which was fortunately in the middle of a rain shower so presumably washed away the lines). Mind you the place was jammed to the gills inside so Viv and I sat at the counter to watch the chefs weave their magic.
There was certainly nobody sitting down chewing the fat. It was all business for the numerous help. And it was hot and steamy too, not surprising I suppose given the need to boil the pork soup served with the ramen for 20 hours or so.
Small menu but that's typical for ramen shops -- mostly based around either pork jowl or cha shu (pork back not belly as I thought given the similarity with famous BBQ Chinese pork). Variations were with what came in it.
We chose the cha shu ramen and the toroniku ramen (pork jowl) with Sapporo beer to wash it all down. It came in virtually an instant and boy, was it good and hot. The pork jowl was sensational and the noodle/soup combo... well I'll have to admit here that I am a total sucker of soups in all shapes and forms. And if you put something in it, well...
|The Toroniku Ramen dish, pork jowl to left|
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
91 Dundas Street East
Toronto, ON M5B 2C8