Encounter authentic Japanese flavours and the spirit of hospitality with Isshin’s original ramen.
As a ramen lover (and history otaku), I consider myself fortunate to be in Toronto during its Ramen Sengoku (Warring States) period. Among the many strong contenders, Ramen Isshin is a relative newcomer that recently celebrated its second anniversary. Nevertheless, Isshin (literally “one heart/soul”) has already captured Torontonians’ hearts with its “soul” dedication to bringing true Japanese ramen to the city.
The authentic experience starts the moment you step into the 40-seat restaurant. As you pass by the big open kitchen, you’re greeted by a large dragon mural and Japanese calligraphy, alongside the staff’s energetic calls of “Irasshaimase!”
Unlike many other ramen restaurants, Isshin does not stick to particular regional specialties. Instead, according to Jason Matsubara (co-owner and “foodie at heart”), the menu items are invented and designed by the talented co-owner and executive chef Koji Zenimaru. Koji brings in his diverse culinary expertise to deliver exceptional original ramen, such as the popular Spicy Red Miso Ramen and the Kotteri Shoyu Tsukemen.
What makes Isshin Ramen stand out is its considerable attention to details. Each noodle’s thickness, texture and elasticity are specially customized to match different types of broth and ingredients. The Spicy Red Miso Ramen’s chewy, twisty noodles help to amplify the sweetness of the creamy, pork-based broth, made from red miso and house-made chili oil and enhanced with plentiful toppings (chashu wok-fried pork, bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms and more). On the other hand, the Kotteri Shoyu Tsukemen’s noodles are thicker and wider, making a perfect balance with the thick, saltier dipping broth. Both are extremely flavourful and filling.
Isshin Ramen’s thoughtful approach extends to the variety of items on the menu. Along with four types of vegetarian ramen and a vegan (egg-free) option, the restaurant has also introduced various playful forms of enjoying ramen (e.g., tsukemen and “solid-broth” ramen). Isshin seems to fully adhere to the concept of “Ichigo-ichie” (meaning one opportunity, one encounter), as they value every customer and cherish each bowl of ramen they serve.
The owners of Isshin are planning to expand their superb customer service and mastery of taste to Kiu, an upcoming 140-seat ramen and izakaya restaurant in Markham. I can’t wait to see what new encounters are in store from this talented group.
Staff: Yookyung Jung
Having grown up in multiple cities in four different countries, Yookyung was born to wander. And a wanderer she’ll stay, in constant search of exciting new opportunities and adventures around the world. She loves learning foreign languages and/ by watching foreign historical dramas.
421 College St., Toronto | 416-367-4013
Open: Sun–Thurs 11:30 am–10 pm • Fri–Sat 11:30 am– 11 pm
*Last order 15 minutes before closing time.