In Japan, one of the best ways to stick it to the summer heat is with a nice big bowl of chilled noodles. Whether it’s a healthy serving of oboro soba or a plate of tsukemen, summertime means cold, delicious noodle dishes.
Each season in Japan has its own characteristic sounds, scents and seasonal delicacies, and summer is no exception. For many Japanese, the muggy heat of summer heralds the sound of buzzing cicadas, the haunting ghost stories of Obon, and eating bowl after bowl of chilled ramen, udon or soba.
If you’re craving a savoury bowl of noodles but the temperature outside is simply too hot for ramen, it’s tsukemen to the rescue. Tsukemen, also known as dipping noodles, is a popular cold noodle dish all throughout Japan. Unlike ramen, where everything is presented together, tsukemen noodles are served chilled and separate from the broth, which is used for dipping. This broth is usually thicker and richer than ramen broth, perhaps because there’s less time for the noodles to soak up the flavour with just a quick dip. Still, tsukemen is the perfect way for noodle lovers to indulge their craving during the warmer months without sweating buckets. And tsukemen comes in many forms—such as tsuke udon, another cold dipping-noodle dish that is made with thicker udon noodles.
There are also many dishes made with soba, or buckwheat noodles. Where udon noodles are thick and satisfyingly chewy, soba noodles are thin and delicate, and have a uniquely robust flavour, courtesy of the buckwheat from which they are made. Buckwheat noodles are known for being incredibly healthy, because of their high fibre content. The most well-known chilled soba dish is zaru soba, which usually features a cold fish and soy-sauce-based dipping sauce known as tsuyu. The full-bodied flavour of the broth is a good complement to the hearty soba noodles.
Noodles are a staple of Japanese cuisine, and just because the mercury is rising is no reason to stop enjoying them—simply get into eating them cold! Thankfully, you won’t need a ticket to Japan to enjoy all the delicious variations of cold summer noodles described above. There are plenty of spots in and about Toronto that offer their own unique spin on a plethora of Japanese cold noodle dishes. Be sure to stop in to one of the restaurants listed here to get your summer cold noodle fix.
Multiple locations across Toronto and the GTA | www.kintonramen.com
Ice Kori Ramen
The Ice Kori Ramen is one of Kinton’s limited-time summer specials. True to the name, it features an icy, slushy broth topped with refreshing cucumber, chicken breast, chili sauce, bean sprouts, shredded red pepper, half a seasoned egg and thick, delicious noodles. Be sure to mix well before digging in.
Another limited-time summer ramen is Kinton’s Chilled Tsukemen. It’s a generous serving of thick noodles, pork shoulder and nori (seaweed) served with dipping sauce and a side of fresh quail egg, shredded daikon radish, wasabi and scallion. All three of these summer ramen specials listed here are available at all Kinton locations throughout Ontario.
Hiyashi Chuka, or “cold ramen,” is a quick dish that doesn’t require a hot stove. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the most popular foods of summer in Japan. At Kinton it comes with thick noodles in a sesame and vinegar dressing topped with tender sliced pork belly, cucumber, corn, seaweed, tomato, bean sprouts and half a seasoned egg.
24 Wellesley St. W. (Rear), Toronto | 647-348-0667 | www.zakkushi.com/raijin
Ramen Raijin’s take on Hiyashi Chuka, or cold ramen, is served with fresh vegetables, boiled egg and ham, then topped off with salmon roe, all in a soy sauce and vinegar broth.
Cold Ume Shiso Tsukemen
Back for Raijin’s summer lineup is the Cold Ume Shiso Tsukemen. It’s a dipping noodle ramen with a chicken and bonito-fish-based broth, sliced chicken, Japanese leek, and pea shoots. Refreshing shiso oil, lemon ice cubes and sour ume (pickled plum) round out the tartand citrusy flavour profile of this popular summer dish.
Mazemen is a type of ramen that has a higher ratio of ingredients to soup, and the ingredients are meant to be mixed together. The Cold Mazemen at Ramen Raijin packs in a mix of creative ingredients such as spinach noodles, white sesame and grated mountain yam, and it comes with a side of wasabi.
Cold Yuzu Shio Ramen
Raijin’s Cold Yuzu Shio Ramen features a chicken-based broth infused with the tangy-sweet taste of yuzu. Topped with tender chicken and honeyed lemon, it’s a light and citrusy ramen with a refreshing and satisfying finish, perfect for a hot summer day.
Ichiriki Japanese Restaurant
120 Bloor St. E., #103, Toronto | 416-923-2997 | www.ichiriki.ca
416-436- 7997 | www.sobacanada.com
Soba, or buckwheat noodles, are as delicious as they are healthy. On Tuesday nights, head to Ichiriki Japanese Restaurant in Toronto for a taste of Soba Canada’s cold Oboro Soba, featuring piles of creamy oboro tofu. The tofu is non-GMO and made with organic soybeans and nigari (sea water extract) from the Pacific Ocean.
5321 Yonge St., North York | 416-733-3725 www.hakatashoryuken.com
You won’t find the Cold Ramen on the menu at Shoryuken, but ask and you shall receive. The broth is comprised of a vegetable base seasoned with noboshi fish, bonito fish, kelp and shiitake mushrooms, giving it a classically Japanese flavour profile. Best of all, the Cold Ramen is available all year round.
5469 Yonge St., North York | 416-229-6191 | www. menamitoronto.ca
MeNami’s Tsuke Udon or “dipping udon” is a pile of thick udon noodles served cold. “Tsuke” noodles are traditionally paired with a richly flavourful broth for dipping, and MeNami’s sweet ginger and soy sauce broth does not disappoint. Enjoy with beer, cold sake or one of MeNami’s light and crisp yuzu mojitos.
Ryus Noodle Bar
786 Broadview Ave., Toronto | 647-344-9306 www.ryusnoodlebar.com
Cold Salad Noodle
For a limited time during the summer, enjoy Ryus Noodle Bar’s Cold Salad Noodle, a delicious mix of noodles, chicken and pork topped with a spicy-sweet chili and sesame sauce. There’s also a vegetarian version which features carrots, arugula, seaweed, shiitake mushroom and a citrus-based broth, making it a great summer option for anyone.
Kiu Japanese Restaurant
169 Enterprise Blvd. (2nd floor), Markham | 905-513-6368 | www. ki-u.com
Black Cod Cold Ramen
Enjoy a taste of the sea at this Unionville restaurant. Cold ramen noodles are served with black cod, egg, cucumber, wood ear mushrooms, tomato and taro chips, and pickled ginger, alongside a white sesame miso sauce.