372 Bloor Street West (plus 3 other locations)
Food: Met expectations *
Service: Met expectations, ish *
Ambiance: Met expectations
Price for 2: $25 (2 bowls of ramen)
Number of visits: 3
My first visit to Kenzo Ramen was a disaster, because I made the mistake of straying from the ramen to the appetizers- gyoza (pretty good) and takoyaki (gross). I’m not saying that there aren’t people in this world who would enjoy takoyaki, which are squiggly bits of octopus surrounded in a kind of mucky donut with a sprinkle of what I later learned was bonito flakes (just dried fish, but they were curling up and I swear they looked alive). I just wasn’t one of those people.
Put off by the takoyaki, I could barely think about my ramen. It’s taken me months to work up the courage to return.
I’m glad I did, though, because the ramen is quite good- and the noodles and broth are homemade in house with no msg. My friend and I ordered the Sapporo-miso ramen with chicken (me– it was one of 2 that didn’t have green onions in the broth; $8.95) and the Netsu ramen (them; $8.95). My soup was packed with noodles and vegetables, including bok choy, carrots, and bean sprouts. The broth was nice- rich without tasting overly salty. The stir fried vegetables added a bit of a burnt barebeque flavour. My friend’s Netsu was spicy but not unbearable (good to clear the sinuses), with good flavour as well. I’ve also tried the Mi-so Ramen ($7.95- budget friendly and plain with just the right amount of salt flavour and grease…perfect hangover food), and the Yakisoba (the only non-soup meal option on the menu…my partner loved it).
My bowl was absolutely HUGE, enough to take home a second meal. However, after eating for what felt like forever, I have to say that some of the initial enjoyment started to die down a bit.
We arrived at the right time- by 7:30pm on Friday the place was packed, and it seems like it’s usually a happening spot. The service was very understated. On my first couple visits it was efficient and friendly– available if needed, but otherwise invisible, on my third, they were understaffed (or underattentive).
Overall, I would recommend Kenzo Ramen if you want budget-friendly comfort food.