When the weather is sizzling hot, indulge in one of these unforgettable fiery noodle dishes. Not only are they incredibly tasty, but food scientists claim that eating them will actually cool you down.
It may seem counterin-tuitive, but science has shown that consuming spicy foods can actually make you cooler. How so? When you eat spicy foods that make you sweat, a phenomenon called “gustatory facial sweating,” your blood circulation will initially increase, making your body temperature rise; however, the resulting sweat cools you down as it evaporates off of your body. Humans living in the most scorching climates often indulge in fiery and peppery fare, from Korean fire chicken (buldak) to Chinese white-pepper-spiced beef, to Ethiopian Doro Wat or spicy Indian masalas. Even though the Toronto weather doesn’t hold a candle—er, a flame—to some of these tropical climates, why not give it a try? Not only will you be keeping your belly happy, you will also keep yourself cool over our (relatively) hot summer months. As if that were not enough, spicy foods have also been shown to be heart healthy, to help keep one’s weight in check, to stimulate labour in pregnant women and to help with inflammatory issues such as rheumatoid arthritis.
All of this to convince you that a tempting bowl of red-brothed ramen or fiery udon is worth a shot, when the taste alone is worth trying every single one of the dishes listed here! Chilis and spices are mixed by expert chefs to create tantalizing bowls of steaming hot noodles—thinner noodles are used for the ramen dishes whereas the udon dishes contain a thicker, chewier noodle. Once you have tried one, it’ll be hard not to hunt down every variation that you can find. Lucky for us Torontonians, we are quite spoiled for choice! The secret to each restaurant’s spicy noodle definitely lies in the combination of spices and chilis; however, unique and high-quality preparation of traditional toppings (pork, egg, veggies) as well as the texture and taste of the noodles are what sets each of these bowls apart. Try them all and let us know what you think.
Go ahead and indulge in a bowl of spicy magic. Besides being delicious, what all of these noodle dishes have in common is that they are guaranteed to make you sweat.
Kinton Ramen – Pork Spicy Garlic Ramen $10.99
The most popular ramen dish at Kinton Ramen, the Pork Spicy Garlic Ramen is made with chili peppers, bean sprouts, grated garlic, scallions and pork. The secret of this savoury and fiery ramen bowl lies in the carefully chosen ingredients and special preparation techniques. Kinton uses only high-quality Canadian-farmed pork for their ramen dishes, which is evident in every bite (and slurp).
Kinton Ramen | www.kintonramen.com 5 branches in downtown Toronto and 1 in Markham
Ramen Roiji – Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen $15 ($13 without egg)
This is the top-selling ramen at Ramen Raijin, and for good reason. Spicy richness mixed to perfection with the mild pork broth hits you with a bold wall of flavour. A melt-in-your-mouth piece of chashu (pork shoulder) rests on top of the generous noodle portion in this fiery broth, and you can enjoy the dish with or without the egg.
Ramen Raijin | 24 Wellesley St. W. (Rear), Toronto | 647-348-0667 | www.zakkushi.com/ raijin | OPEN: Sun-Thurs 11:30 am-12 am Fri-Sat 11:30 am-1 am
Don Don Izakaya – Spicy Seafood Udon $12.80
Let the combination of egg, seaweed, bamboo shoots, green onions, chili oil and luxurious pork bone broth feed your soul at Don Don Izakaya with their version of Spicy Seafood Udon. The Rayu sauce (Japanese chili oil), which is made with dried fish, is what makes the flavour so special. Tasty morsels of shrimp, clams and squid top the udon noodles, making this dish one of the chef’s favourites!
Don Don Izakaya | 130 Dundas St. W., Toronto 416-492-5292 | www.dondonizakaya.com
OPEN: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-4 pm, Dinner: Sun-Thurs 5 pm-12 am • Fri-Sat 5 pm-1 am *Last call 30-60 minutes before closing
MeNami – Spicy Tsuke Udon $12
MeNami’s Spicy Tsuke Udon dish is prepared with fresh and chewy house-made udon noodles. The dish is served on a soba tray, with spicy tsuke sauce for dipping on the side. The dipping sauce is quite flavourful, spiced with chili oil, garlic and ground dried shrimp. The clear and luxurious spice is what makes this dish stand out from the others.
MeNami | 5469 Yonge St., North York | 416- 229-6191 | www.menami.ca |
OPEN: Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2:30 am • Sun 11:30 am-12 am
Ebisu – Spicy Ramen (Lunch $9 /Dinner $13.95, Fujisan ramen $15.95)
Ebisu’s Spicy Ramen dish is made with eight kinds of spices, including Cajun seasonings and jalapenos, and then mixed with Ebisu’s special ginger-spiced miso sauce. Diners have a choice of regular and Fujisan ramen. A towering bowl of Fujisan (“Mt. Fuji”) ramen is known for being thick, delicious and chewy in uncommonly generous portions—take the challenge!
Ebisu on Queen | 204 Queen St. W., Toronto 416-204-9595 | ebisutoronto.com
OPEN: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm, Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5 pm-11 pm • Fri-Sat 5 pm-12 am • Sun 5 pm-10 pm
Sakawa Coffee – Hell Ramen $11
Like most menu items at this cosy east end restaurant, the ramen noodles in this spicy bowl are handmade by Chef Koki Oguchi. No longer only on their secret menu, the Hell Ramen is the bowl for you if you like it hot! Minced pork, egg, bean sprouts and green onions top the perfectly chewy noodles in this dish.
Sakawa Coffee | 867 Danforth Ave., Toronto 647-347-4932 | sakawacoffee.com
OPEN: Tues-Fri 10 am-10 pm • Sat-Sun 9:45 am-10 pm • Mon closed
Hakata Shoryuken – Red Hot Tonkotsu $10.80
The Red Hot Tonkotsu is made with home-made spicy miso and chili oil, which pairs well with both the thin Hakata-style noodles and medium-thick noodles on the menu. Hakata ramen, originating from Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, is considered by some to be the world’s richest ramen, as it has the highest Brix (sugar content) of all ramen varieties around the country.
Hakata Shoryuken | 5321 Yonge St., North York 416-733-3725 | www.hakatashoryuken.com
OPEN: Daily 12 pm-3 pm, 5 pm-10:30 pm