In Toronto, ramen houses are the new black of Toronto, topping popular trends such as sushi bars and taquerias on the foodie fad lists of late. They are appearing on every street corner with huge variation in both presentation and price. Kinton Ramen, backed by the emerging Guu empire, is one of the leaders of the pack offering a mid-priced soup with mid-range Guuesque song and dance.
Heeding the warnings of other bloggers and posters, I ventured to Kinton Ramen at the tail end of their lunch hours (about 2:15) to avoid the rush. I arrived to a restaurant about three quarters full and was seated at the bar near the door almost immediately. It’ s a modest but pleasant environment without the high decibel levels of its Guu sisters, which is fitting for its location along Baldwin street.
I opted for the Shio Ramen in a effort to get a good pulse on their version of the trendy soup. It’s milky looking broth lacked the visual appeal of some of the other noodle soups I’ve had. If you really like pork, you’ll like this ramen. If you like pork more than soup, you’ll like this ramen. If you think pork is the other white meat…you get the point. I expected a fragrant broth with multidimensional tastes and flavours but this was trumped by an overwhelming pork taste driven by the shoulder, belly and broth itself. The belly itself was delicious and tender. The noodles erred on the side of underdone. The seasoned egg was a nice addition but lacked a bit of the flowing yolkiness I usually enjoy with a ramen soup.
Like spicy tuna sushi, gyoza are one of those things I automatically order on a menu (unless when I’m at Moxie’s or where they want 12 bucks to make 6 dumplings look pretty). At Kinton, for 3.5 you get 4. The surrounding dough was tough and chewy. I opened one up to give the filling a fair chance as a stand alone , but the scarce ball of under seasoned ground pork inside was almost as lackluster as the dough itself. I have purchased store bought dumplings which I’ve done in a home steamer and fried that have tasted better.
Kinton Ramen is a decent lunch spot with a reasonable price point but with the number of other lunch spots along Baldwin St. it wouldn’t be my first choice. It will be interesting to see if the ramen rage is a phase or a sustainable lunch option moving forward. The future of places like this will hinge on the sustainability of this trend because, although I did not try any other “sides” it appears that, based on the gyoza, at Kinton you should stick with the ramen and that ordering anything else might be a crap shoot….literally.