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Ajisen Ramen

Posted by Tanja / Reviewed on January 2, 2007 / review policy

20070102_ajisen5.jpgIn the dying hours of 2006 I found myself 1) in North York, 2) in a car with three drunk friends, one hungry driver and, of course, my camera, and 3) blinking at an indiglo watch, wondering if 1:30AM meant we were going to eat at a Coffee Time.

All of a sudden, Dharm (the driver) starts raving about this noodle place his friend took him too... How it's amazingly good, they've got locations all over the world and how it's going to sweep the city. "I can't remember the name," he says, "but it's something Ramen. It's coming up."

We all agree that it's probably closed anyways, but keep heading towards the location anyhow. As we pass Ajisen Ramen, the drunkest of the drunks points and screams, "THERE! IT'S OPEN!!!!" and before I can look over, Dharm sends us screeching into a u-turn on this quiet stretch of Yonge St.

Thankfully, it was well worth the whiplash.

20070102_ajisen1.jpgWalking up to Ajisen, I was feeling a little sleepy, but one foot in the door and I was shocked right back into consciousness. The hot-pink furniture, bright lights, mural and giant winking 'doll' could startle you out of a coma. Not that it really came off too over-the-top or tacky at all. It was great!

We were seated in a comfy booth, brought menus and given a few minutes to figure out our order. Thankfully, Ajisen is the kind place with a very visual menu. There is nearly one photo for every item, making ordering a breeze.

The white broth that comes with most noodle bowls is the house specialty here, so most of us go that route.

The quickly-served order went a little something like this:

20070102_ajisen8.jpgJapanese Dumplings: Essentially, pan-fried pork and chive dumplings. The filling stood out as very fresh tasting and plentiful. No hollow dumplings here. $3.99

20070102_ajisen3.jpgCrab Maki: I didn't taste 'em as I'm not a maki fan, but they looked fantastic and they were promptly inhaled by their owner. No complaints from him. $4.25

20070102_ajisen4.jpgAssorted Vegetables Ramen: A few different kinds of Asian mushrooms, along with green cabbage, carrot, corn and chives over a bowl of ramen noodles in Ajisen's special white broth. This was my pick and I loved it. The broth is definitely great and the noodles were nicely cooked -- not soggy or knotted up. No cheapy button mushrooms either... really nice stuff. $6.75-$7.99


20070102_ajisen2.jpg
20070102_ajisen7.jpgFried Chicken Ramen: First thing done right: the chicken wasn't fried and then dropped into the broth to soak. It came on the side with some sauce and mayo which was a nice touch. The chicken was boneless and the actual ramen bowl was nice 'n' simple, dressed only with cabbage and chives. Dharm, who ordered this one, noted that he'd pass on the cabbage next time. Tasty, but not for everyone. $7.25


Ajisen Spicy Pork Ramen(pictured at the top): This final dish proved to be the most memorable. Georgia, who ordered it, loves seriously spicy food, so when the server asked if she wanted either mild or very spicy, she didn't miss a beat with her "SPICY!" reply. He warned that it was very spicy and joked that he didn't want her wasting his noodles if she couldn't hack it. She scoffed at his remark and told him to bring it on.

It was really really spicy. So spicy, that her eyes not only watered but grew noticeably bloodshot. We tried diluting it with some of the regular broth, but not before she had reached over for Dharm's mayonnaise and used it as an ointment on her burning lips. That's a photo I won't be posting! Approach this one with caution! $6.95


Oh, and there was one more thing. Partly to try it and partly to help Geo, I ordered up a strawberry green bubble tea. For me, the key to giving bubble tea a thumbs up is whether or not the tapioca is great or absolutely gross. There is really no in-between.

Ajisen? GREAT.
(Also not too bad for easing a spice victim's tongue.)


20070102_ajisen6.jpg

--
Ajisen Ramen - 5229 Yonge St., South of Finch. (416) 223-0618
(Another location is open in Markham, just North of Steeles and Warden)

Discussion

13 Comments

jerrold / January 2, 2007 at 03:14 pm
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Why why why wouldn't they open a downtown location???!!!

I want so badly to eat there often but it's nowhere near central in location.

Mouth is watering and nostalgia for authentic J-ramen kicked in.
Tanja / January 3, 2007 at 12:15 am
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On the flipside, it IS right on the subway line, Jerrold. Ride the rocket! ;)
jerrold / January 3, 2007 at 08:38 am
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I do plan to make the journey via Red Rocket. Ever since I heard about this place I've been itching to make the trip.
Jerrold / January 8, 2007 at 11:01 am
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Two thumbs up! I had the bbq pork miso ramen, gyoza, and enoki beef and all three were tasty and quite like the real fast food in Japan deal!
yan / January 28, 2007 at 12:43 am
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I've gone to Ajisen and i have to say i really dislike their noodles. It looks and even has the texture reminiscent of spaghetti.
Tanja / February 23, 2007 at 07:39 pm
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Yan - I'm a fan of flatter noodles myself, and hate spaghetti texture, but i didn't mind these at all. I find the dough is much softer and different in consistency.
Tiffany / May 13, 2008 at 11:53 am
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This food looks so good that I would love to taste and have the recipe to it. So that I can make it at my house. I just love to try new things.
caterpillar / May 30, 2009 at 12:49 am
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I really like the ramen with the white pork bone broth base.. Nice noodle consistency, with the right amount of chewiness!
However, I must complain about the service. The servers barely said a word and treated us rudely. They wouldn't respond even when we said thank you..
We were a bit bothered by the atmosphere because they constantly played gospel/evangelical music on the background... -__-
JenX / August 13, 2009 at 03:12 pm
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Not to belittle your unhappiness, but a lot of asian places are focused on efficiency. Verbal courtsey isn't a part of the operation - don't take it personally. Go for the good, cheap food, not the service.
John / March 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm
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First time I went there, two years ago, it was great! Loved the food and everything. And that was even after hearing a bad review from a relative.

Subsequent visits have made me shun the place.

I actually liked the service; food wasn't so good.
M-PC / March 22, 2010 at 02:38 pm
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just a head's up—ajisen's new location has just opening at spadina and dunas. rejoice! :)
Edoble Food / August 30, 2013 at 10:25 am
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Went to the North York Location...never again. What a joke.
jk / September 14, 2013 at 11:00 pm
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So salty n msg , bad, drink so so so much water after eat that

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