Ramen is a staple of college life, but the new wave of ramen shops that have swept across Toronto in the past couple of years are a far cry from the dehydrated noodles boiling in dorm rooms across the country. There's no end of options when you're looking for a filling, flavourful bowl of ramen that won't break the bank. Here's our favourite five spots.
Sansotei Ramen (179 Dundas St. W., sansotei.com)
If you've been on Dundas West around lunchtime any workday, you've probably seen the lineups outside this tiny ramen shop. Nearby workers flock to Sansotei for a taste of their legendary ramen. Sansotei 's signature dish is the Tonkotsu ramen, which is made with silky tonkotsu broth topped with sliced pork belly, black fungus, marinated soft boiled egg and green onion.
A-OK (930 Queen St W, aokfoods.ca)
Yours Truly offers an impressive tasting menu, but if you're looking for a more casual meal, its spinoff A-OK can't be beat. Saddle up to a communal table and order a big bowl of ramen, made with house-made noodles, chicken broth, pork, goji berries and a half soft-boiled egg. An extra order of noodles is optional (and recommended).
Momofuku Noodle Bar (190 University Ave, http://momofuku.com/toronto/noodle-bar-to)
This might just be the most famous ramen in the city -- and at $15 a bowl, the most expensive. Celebrity chef David Chang made a name for himself in New York City with his signature dish before bringing it to Toronto. It's not hard to tell why New Yorkers made his version famous; firm noodles swim in a flavourful broth, accented by slices of pork belly, shredded pork shoulder, fish cakes, nori, scallions and a perfectly poached egg.
Ramen Raijin (3 Gerrard St. E., ramenraijin.com)
This Vancouver import is popular with the Ryerson crowd, but has recently begun attracting a larger audience thanks to its friendly staff, ample seating room and generous portions. We're big fans of the Assari Toridashi Shio ramen ($9.50), made with pork shoulder, angel-haired Japanese leek, green onion, canola flower, a half soft-boiled egg and thinly-sliced chili pepper.
Santouka (91 Dundas St. E., santouka.co.jp/en/)
This chain from Japan offers some of the most flavourful and textured ramen in the city. Though many of the dishes range on the pricey side compared to most others on this list, the broth is consistently creamy and the noodles are firm. When you order their signature Toroniku ramen, the toppings (including mushrooms, bamboo shoots, green onion and the legendary pork jowl) come separately, allowing you to customize the bowl to your tastes.
Honourable Mentions: Ramen Isshin, Touhenboku Ramen Restaurant, Kinton Ramen, Kenzo Ramen, Ryus Noodle Bar