Ramen Isshin – The Best Ramen Restaurant in Toronto
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I am obsessed with ramen. During my years in Toronto, I have visited different ramen restaurants. Among them, I found that Ramen Isshin offers the best quality ramen.
It took me a while to visit this place, despite passing by this restaurant many times. This is because the sign is hard to see, and it is difficult to recognize this ramen shop if you do not intentionally look for it.
Overview of Ramen Isshin and my first visit
Ramen Isshin was opened in 2014, and there is always a long line-up in the late afternoons. The first time my Japanese roommate and I went there was on a weekday around 1pm. I thought we would hit the lunch rush hour. However, the place was busy but not full. We were welcomed by the staff and were immediately taken to our seats. Not all the staff was Japanese, which is unusual in a Ramen restaurant, but all we cared about was the food.
Inside the restaurant
Compared to other ramen shops, this restaurant is a fairly good size and there is a bar next to the cook station for solo diners. There were painted dragon murals and Japanese calligraphy on the wall. Next to this is a blackboard with questions and answers offering information about ramen and the spicy level. The lighting was a bit dim but the service was welcoming and warm.
The menu offers 15 different selections of ramen in four categories: Isshin Originals, Red Miso, Shoyu, and Vegetarian.
Usually, I stick with Tonkotsu Black, which is made of pork – based broth with black garlic oil, but Isshin offers so many different options and it is tempting to try something new.
Without further thought, I ordered Black Sesame Tan Tan Ramen. The broth was strongly flavored with sesame and black garlic oil, and black sesame seeds came on the side. The staff guided me to grind the seeds and then mix it in ramen to add more flavor. The noodle was thick, twisty, and cooked to perfectly al dente. I ate the noodles in five minutes and emptied the broth shortly afterward because it was so tasty.
My roommate chose Spicy Red Miso Ramen, which I had on my second visit. I was wondering if this ramen would be extremely spicy for me, but it ended up being pretty mild. Perhaps because I grew up eating spicy food so I have a different tolerant level of spiciness.
The soup was a perfect blend of pork, chicken broth, and three different miso. I always hesitate to drink the broth after eating ramen, because it can get very salty. This red miso ramen broth had a bit of a sweet, creamy, and rich taste, and was not salty at all, so it was exactly what I liked. There was a generous amount of pork, bean sprouts, mushrooms, green onion and carrots on the top.
The noodle was cooked for a perfect amount of time and it was chewy and bouncy, with a creamy taste from the broth. They also gave me so many noodles that I was full after eating 2/3 of my portion, but I continued eating because it was too delicious.
If you prefer it spicier, I suggest that you try Red Dragon Ramen, which is another level of spicy from spicy red miso ramen. Isshin made an effort for this signature ramen, as they put 15 different spices in this one. Although this ramen comes with more ingredients than red miso ramen, I found the broth was a bit greasy for my liking.
The menu also features small dishes like gyoza which is Japanese pan-fried dumplings and karaage, also known as Japanese deep fried chicken, are juicy and crispy, perfect for my appetite. Another thing to note is that Isshin offers lunch specials from Monday to Thursday, which means that you can order a ramen bowl, gyoza, or karaage, and a drink for $14.95.
Other than authentic ramen and tasty small dishes, one thing that makes Isshin stand out is that this restaurant is vegetarian-friendly. More specifically, they feature five different ramens to vegetarians so their vegetarian customers will not miss out on this great culinary experience.
If you plan on visiting Toronto and are obsessed with ramen like I am, make sure to visit Isshin because, of all the ramen restaurants I have tried, this one is really the best in regarding the flavor, authenticity, and the expedience of the service. The only drawback is that this restaurant does not have a liquor license, so you cannot have alcohol drinks, but you can order tea and soft beverages.