Arrive hungry, leave happy: Sansotei Ramen packs a big punch of flavour in every bowl.

I arrived at Sansotei Ramen’s Yonge Street lo- cation with a big appetite and even bigger expectations. Shortly after Sansotei opened its first restaurant on Dundas Street West in 2011, my friend and Japanese chef, Takeshi, dubbed it his favourite ramen in the city. He has yet to steer me wrong when it comes to Japanese fare in Toronto, and I’m happy to report that Sansotei lived up to my lofty expectations.

P42_santouka02The restaurant is a labour of love for owner Michael Zhang. He was inspired to open a ramen shop after becoming smitten with tonkotsu in his wife’s native home of Sapporo, and the name “Sansotei” is a play on the kanji of his wife’s name. So, with Zhang’s dedication to tonkotsu in mind, I skimmed past the shio, shoyu and to- mato broth options on the menu, and headed straight for the Tonkotsu Black and the Spicy Tan Tan ramens.

I’m a lover of garlicky ramen, and the Tonkotsu Black definitely delivered on the garlic front. No surprise, really, as it takes its name from black garlic cloves that have been pan-fried for hours. The oil from the cloves gives the broth a deep, rich and smoky garlic flavour while avoiding any burnt or acrid finish. Sansotei’s custom-recipe ramen noodles are available in thick and thin varieties, and I elected to go with the thin noodles for this dish. The noodles were served al dente, and their texture was somewhat reminiscent of soba, Japanese buckwheat noodles. The ramen was garnished with a soft-boiled egg, green onion and black mushrooms, but I only had eyes for the chashu pork belly. Generously portioned—so much so that I had to double check that I’d been given the standard order of meat and not a super-sized portion!—the pork was thick, juicy and pan-seared to perfection.

P42_santouka01-1Next up was the Spicy Tan Tan, easily Sansotei’s most popular ramen, which I tried with the thicker noodles. The broth was a pleasing shade of orange-red and garnished with a soft-boiled egg, shredded chili pepper and ground pork. The broth tasted delightfully complex, with a spice level that was cool at first but rose to a comfortable heat as I ate. The bowl also came with two more mouth-watering slices of chashu pork, which paired well with the thick, springy, slightly chewy noodles. It’s no wonder this dish always sells out!

Whether you’re a ramen newbie or aficionado, Sansotei is sure to delight your tastebuds. In addition to two Toronto locations, a new, larger restaurant just opened in Markham and plans are in motion to expand to Ottawa later this year.

Staff: Nicholas Jones

Nicholas lived in a tiny fishing village in Hokkaido from 2009 to 2011.

Ostensibly, he taught English, but he spent most of his time wrangling elementary students and frequenting their parents’ sushi restaurants. He is currently on a quest to find Toronto’s best kara-age.

Sansotei Ramen

650 Yonge St., Toronto | 647-349-3833
Open: Sun–Mon, Wed–Thurs 11:30 am–10:30 pm Fri–Sat 11:30 am–11 pm • Tues closed