Address: 261 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON
When I visited: January 2014, 2 people, lunch
Rating: $, 3
My friend and I were extremely hungry after a morning of being on the audience of the Marilyn Denis show. The ramen restaurant was conveniently located right by the Much Music Building on the hip Queen St W. We were excited to warm our bellies quickly before we got our retail therapy.
I was in luck as the owner Zuimei Okuyama was at the restaurant for the lunch hour, so I had a chance to speak with him. He said that business has been terrific since the opening of November 2013, and seeing the packed lunch crowd, I believed him. I was intrigued by the name of the restaurant. When I asked Zuimei and our waitress what “Touhenboku” meant, they both laughed and had a hard time describing it. The waitress said that “it makes sense for Japanese people”. On their website, it mentioned that Touhenboku means “blockhead” in Japanese and is an homage to a cafe of the same name that the owner used to frequent when he was young. If there are other ways to describe ‘Touhenboku’, comment below, I’d love to know.
I don’t have a favourite ramen spot in Toronto, since each one has something unique to offer. What makes Touhenboku Ramen differ?
For one, the menu is simple with many pictures. I’m like a 5 year old kid at times, I love simplicity and pictures! Secondly, their soup broth is made entirely of chicken, rather than pork. And last, the back of their menu is dedicated to desserts which include cream puffs and tiramisu.
What we ate:
I ordered the garlicky Touhenboku ramen, which had a kick of garlic aroma, served with chashu, seaweed, boiled egg, kikurage (jelly ear) mushrooms and green onion. On the side, I ordered a chashu don, which is a bowl of roasted chicken on a bed of hot rice.
My friend ordered the spicy Touhenboku ramen which had a bit of chilli oil. As there was a choice of thick or thin noodles that are made in-house, we tried one of each.
As for the results, we did not notice a real difference in size between the thick and thin noodles. The ramen broth was flavourful and slightly creamy. I found it equally delicious as pork broth and less salty, which is my preference. I would however prefer if the chicken broth was less oily.
I would come back to re-order the ramen and dessert, but would opt out from ordering the donburi. The meat was flavourful but a bit too dry for my liking. We ended our meal with an aromatic green tea which was on the house.
Touhenboku Ramen had a Valentines Day special recently. Check out their website and their twitter handle @TouhenbokuRamen for updates and specials.