KINTON RAMEN

Kinton-Ramen

Guu is without a doubt, one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto. When I heard they had plans to open a restaurant specializing in ramen, it was almost a dream come true. I was eager to line up in traditional Guu fashion. My first visit though, left me underwhelmed. A friend from university was back in town for a wedding in September so I decided to give Kinton a second chance along with the BF, who’d never been.

Atmosphere: Similar to Guu, the atmosphere at Kinton is boisterous, friendly and hectic. The servers greet each customer with an enthusiastic welcome and bid them farewell with the same energy. There are tables for larger groups in the back of the restaurant but these are used to communally seat smaller groups during peak hours. Additional seats along the bar are great for individual patrons or couples. The wooden bar stools have a built in shelf to store bags or jackets. I would still keep an eye on anything valuable as the storage is out of eyesight and easy to access from behind.

Service: Despite how busy the restaurant was, service was great. The pace felt a little rushed but we were never hurried, food arrived quickly (which was great because we were starving after waiting in line) and I’m amazed at how attentive they are to Kinton “bowlers”. The concept of Kinton “bowlers” is a pretty good marketing technique to generate returning customers. Basically, if you finish your bowl of ramen, broth and all, it counts as one bowler. You get a stamp on a membership card, your picture is taken and posted on their facebook page. Collect 10 stamps and the reward levels start with a free 10pc gyoza, then a Kinton towel, then t-shirts, at 100 a Kinton bowl and by 500 stamps the reward is a $500 gift card.

It’s a pretty great idea to attract regular customers and to stand out as the restaurant of choice out of the many meal possibilities along Baldwin. If Kinton had been around when I was still at UofT, living down the street, this easily would’ve been a goal I strived for during my university years.

Food: As this was my second visit to Kinton, I opted to try a different broth than my usual miso ramen and went with the Garlic Spicy Ramen with an additional egg. The BF ordered the Extra Pork Ramen. We were both impressed with the toppings. They really mean it when they say extra meat. His bowl of noodles was topped with two large pieces of pork shoulder and another two pieces of pork belly. Both cuts were, thick, beautifully charred and tender.

Kinton’s homemade noodles had a great chewy texture and rich flavour. Two major ramen components done better than right. The key though is in the broth and I’m afraid this is where Kinton falls short for me. Their broth is rich, but somehow it doesn’t have the layers of flavour I’m expecting. With the Spicy Garlic ramen, there is a great strong garlic flavour but only a hint of savoury. A nice layer of fat rests on the top and it has all the earmarks of a great broth. The flavour though just doesn’t come through, it’s flat.

On my first visit to Kinton the ramen scene in Toronto was just beginning to evolve and the popular venues today had yet to exist. My second visit was consistent. I love the concept of the Kinton “bowler” and will finish my bowl upon any return visits (as is proper ramen eating etiquette). There’s just something missing from Kinton’s broth.

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