[Baldwin Village] Kinton Ramen
Originated from Vancouver, Guu Izakaya expanded to Toronto with two izakayas (Guu Toronto Izakaya & Guu Sakabar) in the past couple years. This year, the Guu empire expanded further into the ramen business, opening Kinton Ramen in the heart of Baldwin Village.
We arrived really late on a Saturday night, half an hour before the store closed. The store was still packed with customers happily slurping their ramen noodle.
We were first seated at the bar closest to the store entrance (looked like the “drinks” counter), but I requested to sit at the actual cooking counter despite the sweltering heat because I wanted to see the ramen being made!
Prior to my visit, I read online that Kinton Ramen is not as boisterous compare to Guu Izakaya. This was not the case when we were there. The staff greeted customers as they entered and left, and they were also quite rowdy when they were cooking and plating (or should I say “bowling?”) the ramen. The chefs were yelling out the name of the ramen as they scoped ingredients into the bowls and filling the bowls with soup. I didn’t realy mind the rowdiness and it was kind of fun to watch them. I just don’t know how they stay so energetic!
The ramen noodles and soup are the two most critical components of a good bowl of ramen. The soup at Kinton ramen is made by simmering pork and chicken bones for more 20 hours, then adding bonito fish and fresh vegetables to create a mixture of pork, chicken, fish, and vegetable based soup. There were 3 huge pots of soup boiling behind the counter. I wish I could take some of that soup home. :P
Kinton Ramen uses pork shoulder and pork belly in the ramen. Their website claims that they use only Canadian pork and I like that they support local meat! The pork is simmered in their special broth and then marinated with sea salt and soy mixed sauce. Caramelized flavour is added to the pork before serving by browning with a kitchen torch.
There are 4 choices for the soup base at Kinton Ramen: Shio (sea salt), Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso, and Spicy. You can request for light, regular, and rich soup as well. One can also choose either pork belly or pork shoulder for the ramen.
I ordered the spicy garlic ramen with regular soup and pork shoulder. Charles ordered the extra pork ramen with rich Shoyu soup, with pork shoulder and pork belly.
Charles’ soup was very rich in umami flavour, but slightly too greasy for our taste. We both prefered the pork shoulder over pork belly, as the pork belly was extremely fatty. Sadly I did not really taste the “caramelized flavour” in the pork…
My soup contained an abundance of chilli peppers and grated garlic. The garlic added really nice aroma to the soup and the spiciness made the soup really tasty. We did find both soup very salty and we suspected the soup to contain quite a bit of MSG. We were both very thirsty after but it could be due to the high level of salt as well.
The noodles were excellent at Kinton. It was cooked to perfect al dente and we both really enjoyed the chewiness. We also loved the seasoned egg in the soup. The yolk was still warm and gooey!
Our ramen was very satisfying and tasty. Unfortunately, it still fell short of our expectation. We both also got quite sick the next day… Perhaps it was the type of ramen we chose and we were not accustomed to the level of grease… However, I think I would still give Kinton Ramen another try and I would go with their Shoyu ramen with regular soup. After all, it is very challenging to find a good bowl of ramen in Toronto and I feel that Kinton Ramen may be as close as we can get if we want some authentic Japanese ramen.