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Restaurants

Kenzo Ramen

Posted by Beverly Cheng / Reviewed on August 7, 2009 / review policy

kenzo ramen torontoKenzo Ramen is bringing a revolution to our fair city, a ramen revolution that is. With noodle nosheries like Momofuku taking Manhattan by storm and similar chains established on the West Coast, Toronto is perhaps one of the few final frontiers to popularize this age-old dish.

Luring those among us who are a wee bit apprehensive, Kenzo's storefront is plastered with detailed photos mapping out the culinary journey ahead. Immobile in front of the facade, I learn that ramen was first brought over to Japan by Chinese migrants in the 19th century. The soup noodle quickly swept across the nation, particularly during wartime when people sought a cheap, easy way of nourishment.

With a belly aching for warm soupy goodness, I head into the ramen shop on a weekday afternoon. Inside, Kenzo Ramen is no different than any other sushi joint in town. Typical wooden table sets and pseudo Japanese cloth screens adorn the split- level dining room. Service is straightforward and efficient, however could use an extra touch of friendliness or perhaps even a smile. Kenzo Ramen I'm disappointed to find out that their signature Tonkotsu ramen, a pork bone based broth that is simmered for over 20hours, has been temporarily pulled from the menu. I settle for Sho-yu ramen, ($6.95) a dark soy sauce based soup, garnished with thin slices of fatty pork,a single sliver of Japanese fish cake, sautéed bamboo shoots, thin slices of dried seaweed, green onions and half of a marinated soy sauce egg. The noodles are thin and bear a springy texture that only freshly made noodles can have.

Kenzo RamenWe also order Shi-o Ramen ($5.95), which is almost identical in appearance, except that it has a lighter broth and is minus the tasty demi egg.

Kenzo RamenGyozas ($6.95) are pan-seared and crisp, squirting juice upon contact. The scrumptious pork filling, peppered with crushed ginger and diced green onions is enveloped by a delicate wrapper.

Kenzo RamenMany may scoff at Korean owners Daniel and Jane Park along with Chef Fang Yong Song for opening a traditional Japanese ramen shop; however, they have dedicated the past 7 years to perfecting the art of making the best bowl of brothy noodles this side of the Pacific. The Parks don't skimp on details and painstakingly import most machinery and ingredients from Asia.

Kenzo RamenAlways a few steps ahead, Kenzo Ramen will be offering izakaya style fare (including an array of kushimono, skewered meat sticks) to its evolving menu come autumn.

Kenzo Ramen
Kenzo Ramen
Photos by Casey Cunningham

Discussion

71 Comments

that guy / August 7, 2009 at 09:36 am
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I ate there this week and I must say I'll be going back frequently. I'm already craving it.
Maria / August 7, 2009 at 09:40 am
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Do they have vegetarian options?
N / August 7, 2009 at 10:09 am
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There is no such thing is vegetarian ramen because Japanese are not heathens. Ramen needs to be a pork stock. Eat meat you sickly person.
addict / August 7, 2009 at 10:12 am
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do they make their own ramen noodles?
Jason Jang / August 7, 2009 at 10:14 am
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Wow, that was harsh.
Loic replying to a comment from addict / August 7, 2009 at 10:30 am
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yes, they make their own noodles, and both dishes I had (Orochong and the sappore miso) were quite delish. recommended!
Ryan / August 7, 2009 at 11:02 am
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Yes they do have vegetarian options.

You can get with vegetarian miso broth
Ryan / August 7, 2009 at 11:09 am
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Now I don't need to go to Tokyo for my ramen fix. I wish you could make your order out of a vending machine at the front of the shop though, lol.
Erin / August 7, 2009 at 12:01 pm
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These pictures are awesome!
Definitely want to eat here sometime soon.
Wagyu / August 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm
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Kenzo isn't bringing a ramen revolution. They've been in Toronto for years, they just happened to change locations, and sell their original shop at yonge and finch to new owners.
addict replying to a comment from Loic / August 7, 2009 at 12:13 pm
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oh yay! making lunch plans for next week as we speak. =)
King Slime / August 7, 2009 at 12:16 pm
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In the last photo, their business card reads: "KENZO らーぬん” which means "KENZO Ranun". It should say, "らーめん”

Embarassing!
Tim / August 7, 2009 at 12:30 pm
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Can you order rice noodles or anything beyond the traditional ramen/buckwheat noodles?
Ramen replying to a comment from Tim / August 7, 2009 at 01:03 pm
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Nope nothing but traditional wheat based ramen noodles thank god...you want rice noodles, head on over to a pho joint.
Christopher / August 7, 2009 at 01:26 pm
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I'm going today, good one.
Jack / August 7, 2009 at 01:50 pm
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i have to say.. they are just ok.. esp for the price they are charging.. you can make this yourself.. just go to T & T downtown(or any T nT stores).. in the fridge section(not frozen), there is a variety of pre-packaged fresh ramen noodles with soup.. they usually come in 3, individually packaged, soft raw noodles(not the instant noodles).. they also come in different soup base.. the one I like is tonkatsu.. for about $6, you get 3 servings..just dont overcook the noodles.. I find Kenzo over cooked the noodles so they are way tooo soft.. it should be a bit chewy
Jack replying to a comment from King Slime / August 7, 2009 at 01:52 pm
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lol, omg! you are right...in fact, I was trying to speak japanese to them last week, and they don't know any.. they ended up speaking to me either in mandarin or korean.. it's kind of stupid
matts replying to a comment from Jack / August 7, 2009 at 01:57 pm
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Why is it stupid? They are Korean so they speak Korean. There is no law against opening Japanese restaurants if you're not Japanese. Your comment reeks of elitism half baked with ignorance. If their food is good and close to authentic, don't complain, just enjoy it.
Yes / August 7, 2009 at 02:03 pm
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http://www.kenzoramen.ca/
Gabe / August 7, 2009 at 02:05 pm
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It should this, they should that. It should taste good PERIOD!
that guy replying to a comment from Gabe / August 7, 2009 at 02:26 pm
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I'm with you.
I think too many people watched Tampopo and judge themselves to be experts. The food is great.

Also if a greek ran the place I'd still have no problem with it, it's an interpretation of the Japanese take on an old Chinese dish. Either enjoy it or don't.
jack replying to a comment from matts / August 7, 2009 at 02:56 pm
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i think it is stupid.. it is stupid.. esp they screwed up a basic hiragana, nu vs me ...that's even more stupid
it's stupid 'cause I asked them to say one of the noodles dish in Japanese, and they didn't know how to say it..
that guy replying to a comment from jack / August 7, 2009 at 03:02 pm
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did it taste different because of that ?
these people cook food, they are not in the marketing business

you just screwed up basic english sentence structure in all of your posts, yet your message got across

you want real japanese go to tokyo grill, great little place
just so happens it doesn't do japanese food as well as these koreans do it
Jane / August 7, 2009 at 03:35 pm
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I just went last week and had the Sho-yu ramen. I picked out the fish cake, but slurped down the rest with the Gyozas in no time flat. Delish. I was, however, jealous of my friend's order of the Orochong Ramen. It was pretty spicy, but very appealing to the eye, and was chock full o' veg and ground pork. Definitely going back.

And, I have to agree with the above posters ... who gives a crap where the people are from? They make good food. Period. Yeesh.
Stu replying to a comment from jack / August 7, 2009 at 04:03 pm
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Funny how people have a certain EXPECTATION of the people working at a restuarant. Do you give a speaking and an ethnic test at an italian restaurant or a greek restaurant. Should we now put ethnicity on job applications to cook and serve food? Does it make the food better?



matts / August 7, 2009 at 04:06 pm
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Jack, your eloquence is stunning. Your argument is unshakable. You are 8 years old, right?
Maria replying to a comment from Ryan / August 7, 2009 at 04:09 pm
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Thanks. I don't know what the problem is with "N", can't even write his/her real name, but jumps in and insults people.
chenyip replying to a comment from jack / August 7, 2009 at 04:18 pm
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What retarded logic.

Then by that accord, Nota Bene is crap because of David Lee (Chinese), Momofuku Noodle Bar sucks because of David Chang (Korean), and Per Se couldn't hold a candle to French cuisine because of Keller (American).

jack replying to a comment from that guy / August 7, 2009 at 04:23 pm
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ok.. i have generated enough traffic for Tim on this posting..
Gabe replying to a comment from jack / August 7, 2009 at 04:26 pm
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Its only 29 comments you can do better than that....
Timothy replying to a comment from Jack / August 7, 2009 at 05:53 pm
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"in fact, I was trying to speak japanese to them last week, and they don't know any.. they ended up speaking to me either in mandarin or korean.. it's kind of stupid"
"i think it is stupid.. it is stupid.. esp they screwed up a basic hiragana, it's stupid 'cause I asked them to say one of the noodles dish in Japanese, and they didn't know how to say it.."

I figured this out guys. Jack is an adolescent, but definitely Japanese. In Japan some people do look down on Koreans and Chinese, so I suppose this is just him being elitist. Sadly to the point where he tests the waitresses here to see if they are reproducing his culture properly. Man that is too much.
ykcir / August 7, 2009 at 07:14 pm
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It's just ok. Probably about as good as you'll get next to the real deal in Osaka or Tokyo. You know it's really good when you keep wanting more and more. Didn't get that here. Noodles were a bit over cooked.
Ajisen may be slightly better, depending on your preferences.
Richard S / August 7, 2009 at 10:55 pm
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They better offer take out :D
b29 replying to a comment from jack / August 8, 2009 at 03:35 am
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you're all wrong! it should be ラーメン in katakana!
David replying to a comment from ykcir / August 8, 2009 at 09:27 am
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I really like Ajisen, except its location... I must say I'm looking forward to trying out the downtown-located Kenzo. By the way, so they spelled ramen wrong - it took me a while to figure out that the squiggle at the end was the difference. If we have a comment war for every single English spelling mistakes Asians make on their products, we'd pwn the Internets many times over (disclaimer: I'm a Korean). Chill out.
Pimpt / August 8, 2009 at 10:11 am
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Perhaps I missed it, but what are Kenzo's hours of operation? I'm thinking of going for a bowl of ramen after beerfest tomorrow...
c / August 8, 2009 at 06:15 pm
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I went today and I didn't like it much, neither did the japanese tourist sitting next to me . I'll try Konnichiwa on Baldwin next. I heard their ramen is best...
dan replying to a comment from addict / August 8, 2009 at 09:28 pm
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yes make own noodle with ramen machine
Smiley / August 9, 2009 at 12:03 pm
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The price is higher at Konnichiwa, though I think it's worth it and I like Konnichiwa's ramen. But but but, 5-6 bucks at Kenzo would be, say, 500 yen? That sounds like a regular 1-coin price for a simple bowl of ramen in Japan. It may not be a gourmet ramen (which could be around 1000 yen in Tokyo), but wouldn't it be nice to have this casual option in town? I can put up with らーぬん and still appreciate their affordable service. Go Kenzo Go! Yes, you can cook this at home, but you'd still want to casually drop by a ramen shop for some slurp after a long day at work, wouldn't you?
ased / August 9, 2009 at 11:13 pm
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I had the Sapporo miso ramen, and my boyfriend had the Netsu ramen (spicy), the soup is rich but not greasy, probably little or nearly no MSG because me and my boyfriend didn't have to drink a lot of water. the ramen is authentic since they have some traditional choice like the Shi-O ramen (salt). definitely worth a try.

food was really good but one thing that wasn't up to par is their service. on a sunday night, with the restaurant in full house plus plenty of people waiting at the door, there were only 2 waitress who weren't attentive enough (or were just too occupied), our food didn't arrive until we asked them to check on our order.
アトミック replying to a comment from b29 / August 10, 2009 at 05:35 pm
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No, らーめん is perfectly fine in this case.
Elf / August 10, 2009 at 09:59 pm
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I went last night based on this review, and the service was terrible! We sat there for at least 20 minutes before we were even given menus - and forget about water. At the table next to us, one person had almost finished his dish before his friend was even served hers, and at another table they had to repeatedly ask for their drink order. The food was ok, but the service ruined the experience.
j-rock / August 13, 2009 at 03:46 pm
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Decent ramen is one of the things that I miss most about Japan. I went down to Kenzo last weekend with a Japanese friend of mine who LOVES ramen, because I knew she would be brutally honest in her assessment. After her first bite, she looked up, said "It's real", and then continued to scarf down her bowl of miso ramen. For some reason, tonkotsu is advertised in the window, but wasn't available the day we were there. We also had some gyoza, which was good but a little too big, onigiri and a couple bottles of Asahi. It was very much like old times. I agree with a lot of the other posters in that the service did leave a lot to be desired, although I think that part of it is that the two girls working were simply overwhelmed by the constant stream of customers. Despite the slow service, I will definitely be going back for the food.
jack / August 14, 2009 at 09:48 am
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i went back yesterday for lunch and ordered the tonkatsu teishoku(deep fried pork cutlet).. I have to say, this is the best tonkatsu I have ever had! a bit pricey, but totally worth it 'cause the portion is very very decent.. the waitress brought over freshly roasted sesame and grind it in front of you and added the dipping sauce to it.. and the pork cutlet is thick and huge, but not greasy at all.. just tender.. cooked to perfection.. i am very impressed.. it's ironic that I found the noodles are so so.. but the tokatsu is absolutely amazing, esp you are paying for protein, not flour...and the side salad is awesome too.. simple but that's the way it should be done..
jack / August 14, 2009 at 09:48 am
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oh as for the service, yea, they don't really care, so that's good, no tips!
Paul / August 18, 2009 at 12:16 am
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The food here is really not as good as this review implies. It's not horrible, but it's not good either.

Much better ramen can be had nearby at Konichiwa or Tokyo Grill. Manpuku is also close by and they have much better noodles in general (although no ramen).

This place is not good.
Raanun? / September 1, 2009 at 02:15 pm
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"Many may scoff at Korean owners Daniel and Jane Park along with Chef Fang Yong Song for opening a traditional Japanese ramen shop; however, they have dedicated the past 7 years to perfecting the art of making the best bowl of brothy noodles this side of the Pacific."

Good for them. But らーぬん? That reads "raanun." Come on, if you're going for the authentic feel, double check the spelling!
damon / September 30, 2009 at 10:28 am
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I loved this place. A friend of mine has been telling me about it for weeks.

see ya later Pho, ramen is the new chief in town
Eric26 replying to a comment from Raanun? / January 13, 2010 at 03:46 pm
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Idiot. It's actually spelled, "HELLO KITTY-SAN RAMEN ==^-^=="
heinrich / February 27, 2010 at 07:42 pm
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No critics, but O-sama ramen (one of the waitress called it King-ramen - I knew she wasn't a Japanese) was hotter in a different way it tasted more like Korean style with Japanese ramen ingredients in it. I regret that I should have tried something more orthodox like miso ramen. ラーメンとしてはまあまあかな。
San / March 14, 2010 at 01:14 pm
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I went yesterday - too bad there are no veggie options. The waitress told me all their broth is pork-based.
B / March 16, 2010 at 11:38 pm
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So they sold the yonge and steeles location? I went there this week and the taste hasn't changed so I didn't know. They were friendly, fast service and most importantly the food was GOOD! I must check out dt one.

Oh FYI Tokyo Grill on yonge and wellesly makes their own ramen in the house. Witness the process in person. Also they seemed to owned by Japanese people if that matters to you. If you like places like Kenzo it's worth checking it out. Plus they have the best chicken katsu I ever had.
Sniderscion / March 21, 2010 at 08:04 pm
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Have to disagree with Paul who says Manpuku is better. Manpuku is different; very good but not better. I thought the ingredients were fresh and tasty; the noodles were fabulous; springy and flavourful and fresh tasting; and the servings were generous. The prices have gone up; on average add about $2 to the prices quoted above. The service was fast and efficient; they didn't sit down and engage me in conversation and mindlessly grin at me but that's not what I want in a server anyway; I'm not there to make a new friend, I'm there to eat. I will definitely go back and recommend it to anyone.
james b / May 5, 2010 at 10:28 am
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This place is absolute garbage, overpriced and underwhelming. The bowl should hold twice as much broth so you don't run out of broth way before the noodles. These koreans haven't been honing the craft for long and it's obvious. Go to a ramen spot in NYC or LA, don't waste your time trying to find a substitute here in Toronto. I asked the server one or two questions about their ramen, from his response it was immediately apparent they didn't care much about the product they were selling.
Jesotron / August 11, 2010 at 02:48 pm
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Wow, never going back. GF and I went to lunch, they were acting really weird toward us (she has piercings, I have dreads - maybe that's why? I don't know). No one served us for a long time, I had to place our order by catching a guy wiping the table beside us. GF is vegetarian so I ordered fried noodles with vegetables for her - no mention of meat on the menu. The dish arrived with chicken on it. We explained that this wasn't what the menu said, the guy considered what we said and walked away with saying anything. Okay, maybe he's talking to the manager? Kitchen? Nope, 5 minutes later he's serving other customers. We left at that point. Don't know what the food tastes like and I never will, which is fine by me.
Montrealer / October 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm
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Guys, any of you thinking this place is good, you are wrong. I just came out of there just now and I have been severely disappointed.

I've been to Ramen-Ya in Montreal, which is in my opinion, the best ramen shop you'll ever find this side of the country. When I was visiting Toronto and saw this place I wanted to go real bad to experience a different place to compare the different ramen recipes they might have. Also, with the pictures out front it looked authentic.

However, the Ramen-Ya place in Montreal is a thousand times better. This Kenzo ramen shop is really selling Korean soups in disguise and they are really not that tasty. It tasted like regular store bought noodles, and the broth just tasted like some instant cup-o-soup Kimshi bowl noodle stuff. Nothing to go crazy for. And the gyoza, however huge they were, were just some regular Chinese dumpling recipe. Not Japanese.

If you want to experience authentic TASTY ramen, don't go there.
Gadjo / November 8, 2010 at 11:15 am
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I was a big fan of Kenzo and went almost weekly but the last time I was there and ordered my usual Tonkotsu Ramen I was dismayed to almost have swallowed bits of plastic in the soup! They were apologetic and refunded me the cost of the soup but I am thinking twice about going back, it feels like since they've become popular quality has become a bit sloppy.
head / November 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm
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never going back. cramp, takes too long for service, half their menu isn't in stock and portion size is ridiculously small despite the bowl size.
sam replying to a comment from addict / November 29, 2010 at 10:37 pm
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Yes they do make their own noodles. All 100% hand made from raw materials. Its really cool how they do it!
sam replying to a comment from addict / November 29, 2010 at 10:38 pm
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Yes they do, everything is hand made from raw materials. Its really cool how they do it!
GL / December 16, 2010 at 10:28 am
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Got this in my inbox today:

Hi, this is Kenzo Ramen.
We are now pleased to announce that We recently open new Kenzo on 372 Bloor st. West Toronto (416)921-6787.
We hope you come and enjoy at our new location as always.
Thank you and it is always a great honor to serve you all.

Sincerely,
Kenzo Ramen
Helen / February 18, 2011 at 03:07 am
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i'm late with the comments game, but just wanted to say that KOREAN PEOPLE LIVE IN JAPAN TOO. there are people who are ethnnicaly korean but were born in japan. live a little, people.
Josh replying to a comment from N / July 9, 2011 at 02:13 pm
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It's a good thing you're a prick.
Cee replying to a comment from Montrealer / December 3, 2011 at 01:57 am
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Damn man what's with all the hate. Are you korean? Do you really know about "Korean soups?" Because if you did I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be saying Kenzo Ramen tastes like Korean food. Their ramen doesnt even fit the tastebuds of Korean people. I am Korean and I had to get used to it before starting to enjoy it. And more importantly, Kenzo is famous for their gyozas, which are all hand made DAILY. And it is NOT a chinese recipe. Are you wondering why I'm saying this? Because my mother, the owner, has come up with this recipe HERSELF, and makes them by hand. We are Korean. We know nothing about Chinese recipes. Thank you. Good day.
T / August 30, 2013 at 11:51 am
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No.
T replying to a comment from Montrealer / August 30, 2013 at 11:52 am
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i agree
jj / September 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm
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1 word bad, never go back again n again,
Lileth / November 19, 2013 at 12:23 am
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I know Ramen is one kind of the best noodles that Japanese trademark. Good that you offer this here in Canada so that people around here no need to go to Japan just to have this. Also, you have a nice ambience on your place. Like another restaurant in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Kanji Sushi Restaurant & Sake Bar, one of the Finest Japanese Cuisine in Toronto. They offer different types of Sushi together with Sake wine. Traditional Japanese recipes with French and Italian influences. You can also visit their site @ http://kanjitoronto.com/#!/splash_page
aj / December 3, 2013 at 06:45 pm
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Their noodle and broth is as delicious as the other places in TO and better than some other places in TO but honestly I prefer them because they have the prettiest waitresses who show off of all the ramen restaurants. Yes I am a man who loves ramen
hal / February 23, 2014 at 10:14 pm
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This is my favourite ramen in Toronto
others have ramen so does Kenzo
but Kenzo has the tall sexy waitress in shorts
LOVE IT
Jason / March 23, 2014 at 02:52 pm
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Just got home from Kenzo and it was pretty good. The broth was not too salty and the pork was great.
The service was friendly enough and all in all, at this price point, you could do far worse.

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