Konjiki Ramen

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Konjiki Ramen’s opening day since signs of their arrival first appeared this summer. Konjiki has been Bib Gourmand recommended for the past 4 years and the newest North York location is their first outside of Japan. Chef Yamamoto opened his Shibuya ramen shop in 2006 and has gained worldwide popularity and acclaim with his signature clam, pork and chicken broth. As soon as I heard their doors were open, Stephen and I were in line ready to get our hands on a bowl.

Atmosphere: The retail space of Konjiki Ramen shop was actually split into two areas.Saryo Cafe, a dessert shop occupied the front while seating for Konjiki Ramen took up rest. Decor was modern and industrial in the ramen area and more traditional and natural in the cafe. A long communal table with bar stools ran down the centre of the seating area while table seating was set up along the walls. On top of the communal table and chef’s bar at the back were floating shelves decorated with stock pots and ramen bowls.

Service: Our group arrived at 11:30am on a Sunday, just before doors opened. There was a already a line outside with 30 people ahead of us, enough for one full seating. Luckily the restaurant was designed with room for diners to queue inside out of the cold. It took about 45 minutes for us to get a table. Service was friendly and eager. Since the restaurant was still in their soft opening stage, many of the servers were in training and learning the menu. Our bowls arrived piping hot from the kitchen but took a bit of time. In a few more months, the wrinkles will be ironed out and maybe there even won’t be a wait.

Food: Between the four of us, we each ordered a different bowl of ramen to try out. I had the Signature Clam broth with Shoyu and Stephen chose the Smoky Black Tonkotsu. Our friends tried the Signature Clam broth with Shio and Spicy Red Tonkotsu. I have to say, between their signature broth and tonkotsu, I much preferred the flavour of the clam. The broth was flavourful but light and had a great depth of flavour. You could taste each of the elements from the clam to the procini to the hint of truffle. The shio version had a much stronger clam flavour than the shoyu.

The tonkotsu broth was rich, but wasn’t especially stand out. Both tonkotsu’s were topped with ground meat, which was sparse. Stephen’s bowl had a more intense flavour with the roasted garlic sauce and two smoked cherry tomatoes for extra umami. He found them interesting. I thought the Spicy Red Tonkotsu tasted more sweet than spicy, and was interesting but not quite what I was expecting. Either way, I felt like the bowl was lacking toppings. It was almost a necessity to add the $3 Braised Pork Belly (for 3 pieces).

My noodles were excellent, firm and chewy. Overall, I loved my bowl and would highly recommend it, especially to those who have only ever had tonkotsu broth. I would skip the karaage, which was over done, although the garlic mayo was very good. With added toppings, the bill for a single bowl of ramen gets close to $20, which is on the pricier side. For the uniqueness and deliciousness of the signature broth through, I think the bowl was worth it.

I’m very happy to see more varieties of ramen coming to Toronto and hope it’s a continuing trend! Jiro style next please.

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