Toride – Tokyo, JP

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…

5 thoughts on “Toride – Tokyo, JP

  1. That bowl of ramen looks like a perfect comfort food to me as well. Unfortunately I say that without ever having the chance to indulge in the above quality goods.

    On a side note, and I ask with zero ramen knowledge, is there healthy versions, fattier versions, strong broths etc…or is it a pretty standard setup (like pho broth), with just different cuts of meat, etc tossed in.?

  2. > raidar

    Great minds eh? 🙂

    Indeed, with ramen, you can get a wide variety of soup options made from different stock (pork, chicken, fish, etc.) as well as other flavoring options that are added (soy, salt, miso, etc.) and thus the “healthiness” of them can different immensely. Others deliberately add oil to the mix, thus jacking up the fattiness. Toppings as well in an entirely different area that can make the flavors even more deep and complex.

    Same thing goes with the noodles, plenty of selection choices there too. Essentially, think of it as a mix-and-match, though each shop (the good ones anyways) will tend to specialize in a certain combination, usually based on the region of Japan where it was born. I’d suggest you try the ones in your area, or when you travel, to find out what mix of flavor works for you. To each his own! 🙂

  3. Hey shokutsu,

    I would certainly wish they would set up shop here as well. After all, competition is what drives them to improve, right?

    Now, here is a loaded question: If they were to set up shop here, what would be the stick to measure its authenticity, specially considering some ingredients might have to be replaced/substitute have to be used?

  4. > KimHo

    That Robson & Denman corner is shaping up nicely as a little ramen corner. But ya, more competition the merrier!

    Good query. I think you can reasonably develop the base broth using local ingredients (well maybe with fish/seafood based broths it gets tricky as the dried ingredients aren’t that easy to source locally), but I would say the noodles. Being its what constitutes the bulk of what you actually eat in a bowl of ramen, its what stands out. Its really really hard to get a good source for this (and specific for ramen), unlike Asia where they make it daily and fresh and deliver several times per day to really busy ramen joints. So that would be my shortcut answer to this question.

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