Shinsencho 20-23, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo, Japan 〒150-0045
+81 3 3780 4450
With the chilly weather and ongoing fog that has engulfed the west coast, it has me craving for a good bowl of ramen. Unfortunately, when it comes to ramen, my thoughts go back to Japan. No offense to the ramen operators in Vancouver, but there is just something that cannot be matched by the “real deal”. As I think about it, its not only just the difference in the taste, quality of ingredients, dedicated “masters” who put so much into their creations, but also the atmosphere that I have a yearning for on a cold winter’s night.
I was first introduced to Toride by a friend of mine who is a fierce fanatic of ramen and who’s food tastes I trust completely. The sign above is sort of like the motto of Toride, and says “One Heart, One Noodle”. Incidentally, my friend is a she, and can drink beers with the boys, and hold her own and then some… all five foot-one, one hundred and twenty pounds of her. To top it off, she’s a French-trained pâtissier. I know, its scary.
We stumbled in with a group of our friends after a night of partying, and discovered the place was full as usual on my latest visit. Granted, it is a cozy place with just 14 table seats and an 11 seat counter section. After waiting a few minutes , a pair of tables opened up and we quickly settled in. This rustic mood with the heavy use of wood and traditional Japanese paper in a lot of the motif, coupled with the boisterous sounds coming from the open kitchen and shouts of the servers completes the package of what I view as a welcoming ramen-ya.
I knew what I was getting, my usual bowl of Toride Ramen (700 yen). And having had a big amazing meal beforehand at a fantastic izakaya, I didn’t get any additional toppings. The orthodox, light tonkotsu broth (cooked over twenty hours in the kitchen) has a deep rich flavor but has none of that bothersome and stinky porky-ness that is sometimes associated with tonkotsu-base ramen soups. Combined with an ultra skinny straight noodle, it makes for a truly tasty bowl, and with minimal oily-ness, makes for drinking all of the high quality soup very easy.
On the table top are some self-serve flavor toppings you can add for yourself to make your ramen more interesting. They include some spicy takana (I believe in English they would call this Mustard Leaf or Mustard Greens), fresh raw minced garlic, pepper, sesame seeds (that you can grind), and beni shoga (pickled ginger slices).
Lastly, I thought I would introduce the gyoza at Toride. They call it Hitokuchi Gyoza, literally translated as one-bite gyoza. These little morsels have a solid balance of pork and cabbage inside, with a hint of garlic. Perfect for sharing with a group when one doesn’t want a few bigger pieces of regular sized gyoza. I wonder if something like this would fly, size-wise, in the izakaya replicas here in North America? Or would the traditional rule of “size matters” come into play and a serving like this be rejected?
For me, ramen is the ultimate comfort food. With a great deal of variety, from the type of soup base, the noodles used and even all the toppings, I will never get tired of an excellently prepared bowl. Toride is one of my staple ramen joints that I frequent when visiting Tokyo. It never disappoints, continues to retain its popularity and its fabulous riotous mood, as well as remaining true to their motto and dedicated to the ramen craft. Now I just wish they would create their first foreign outlet down on Robson…