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Restaurants

Raijin Ramen

Posted by Guest Contributor / Reviewed on November 29, 2012 / review policy

raijin ramenRaijin Ramen is the newest contender in Toronto's rapidly growing ramen scene. Those familiar with Vancouver ramen shops will note that Raijin is operating under the same owner as the popular Kintaro Ramen and Motomachi Shokudo. Taking over the former Creasians BBQ at Yonge and Gerrard, Raijin has chosen a prime location for both students and hungry shoppers from the Eaton Centre.

raijin ramen torontoThe interior features a front dining space that includes bar seating (currently without liquor license) as well as a quieter dining area in the back. The combination of the two allows Raijin to seat around 70 patrons at any time, a noteworthy contrast to the smaller ramen shops that people have found themselves queuing in long lines for.

Upon our entrance and throughout the meal, the staff was attentive and courteous without being invasive, and seating was comfortable and spacious. At the time of my visit, Raijin was in its soft opening phase and there was no alcohol on the menu as well as limited side dishes available.

raijin ramen torontoWe started off with a small order of pan fried gyozas ($2.50 for 5), which came with an accompanying soy-based sauce. I enjoyed the wonderfully thin dumpling skins, but the pork filling could have been more plentiful.

raijin ramen torontoShortly after, our two bowls of ramen arrived. I opted for the Shio Tonkotsu ($9.50), consisting of cabbage, green onion, wood fungus, half a soft boiled egg and a few slices of pork shoulder over their shio tonkotsu broth. The egg was cooked perfectly, but I found the pork shoulder fairly mediocre--a bit too lean and tough compared to other Toronto ramen shops. The noodles were fantastic with a nice thickness and slightly chewy texture, however they did have a stronger alkaline taste which some people may not prefer (although I loved it).

raijin ramen torontoMy dining partner chose the Shoyu Tonkotsu ($9.50) which featured essentially the same toppings, but favoured bean sprouts over the wood fungus. Personally, I thought the broths for both bowls were not impressive at all. They did not come close to the creamy pork bone broth that Sansotei offers, nor did it have the richness or depth of Santouka's broth. The portion of noodles is very large for the price though, comparable to Kinton portions for sure.

raijin ramen torontoOverall, I was a bit let down by Raijin, based on the reviews of Kintaro and Motomachi. Considering the number of ramen options that Toronto has amassed within the past few months, I wouldn't put them at the top of my recommendation list, but a return trip will be required in order to try their chicken-based ramen offerings. On the plus side, if you can't stand waiting in line for a bowl of noodles, then I'm sure Raijin will be able to seat you faster than any other ramen shop nearby.

Writing and photos by Bryan Chang

Discussion

36 Comments

The Truth / November 29, 2012 at 10:16 am
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Ate here just last week and my girlfriend got very bad food poisoning 30 minutes after eating...
the real truth replying to a comment from The Truth / November 29, 2012 at 10:43 am
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Food poisoning doesn't hit in 30 minutes
The Truth replying to a comment from the real truth / November 29, 2012 at 11:28 am
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Under what are you basing this false opinion on?
DJ replying to a comment from the real truth / November 29, 2012 at 11:30 am
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had it happen to me before with chicken wings, sorry pal
Mr. Freeze / November 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm
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Ramen trend = zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
acv66 / November 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm
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Naruto!
Jason replying to a comment from The Truth / November 29, 2012 at 01:31 pm
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Food poisoning takes hours to feel, not 30 minutes and it's not the same thing as an upset stomach which CAN happen right away. I think when people don't feel well after eating they are way to quick to claim the restaurant gave them food poisoning.
Collin / November 29, 2012 at 01:33 pm
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it takes the food at least 30 mins to get to your stomach and get processed, and your body to react...

it may be food borne illness related to her previous meal, or maybe the ramen didn't agree with her stomach, tho it may not necessarily be food poisoning.
NY / November 29, 2012 at 02:10 pm
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It happens to me sometimes when I ate something that’s too rich for my stomach. It's possible it’s the soup base, which contains high amount of fat. Try something that’s not made with bone than you should be fine.
v79 / November 29, 2012 at 02:14 pm
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The full effects of food poisoning can take hours to kick in, but the onset can be very much be apparent in less than half an hour (and it takes 20 mins for your body to process food, not 30). I got it from mussels at a restaurant in Halifax, and I was already running to the washroom three times by the time I was half way through my main course. The vomiting only came a few hours later though.
Ecoli / November 29, 2012 at 03:08 pm
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If it's a chemical or toxin (versus bacterial)... it can hit you fast and furious.
frank / November 29, 2012 at 03:24 pm
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great reviews so far....
duder / November 29, 2012 at 04:17 pm
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Ok, I'll bite...

Went there on their second or third day open. It was fairly quiet, which is surprising considering how packed the other ramen joints in the city are.

Overall, I'd say it was pretty decent. I've been to Japan numerous times, and my wife - who is Japanese herself - said that the ramen is more Tokyo-style than the other ones in T.O. (Santouka is Hokkaido-style, Sansoutei is apparently more western Japan, etc). I had the tonkotsu, and thought it was good; the noodles were the best, while the broth felt a little on the fatty side. Wife had a chicken-broth based one which was also really good.

Would I go back? Definitely. I think I'd rank it slightly ahead of Kinton and perhaps a bit below Sansoutei. Definitely better than Momofuku. Haven't tried Santouka yet but have heard good things.
hop / November 29, 2012 at 05:02 pm
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One thing to add to your review policy is perhaps not reviewing restaurants when they've just opened or are in soft-open mode.
I only eat at McD's replying to a comment from hop / November 29, 2012 at 07:37 pm
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On the flip side, constructive criticism could be beneficial to the owners and staff... they may not realize some things from the eyes of a customer... (assuming they read BlogTO).
bryan replying to a comment from hop / November 29, 2012 at 08:17 pm
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for what it's worth, i probably would've made about the same order on their current menu too. for a ramen shop i don't think reviewing it in soft-open stage is unfair at all.
lol / November 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm
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this place is the real deal... Kintaro in Vancouver is amazing this place is good too
Shana / November 29, 2012 at 11:00 pm
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I went there last week, I had the chicken broth - it wasn't as rich and creamy as the pork broth (which my partner had), but that was the idea (feels much less unhealthy).
The amount of the food is good for the price, and service was incredible quick. I pretty much agree with this review, the broth is tasty, the noodles are satisfying, but there is a subtle difference where I prefer my regular haunts. I'd go there to avoid the queues at other places if I'm craving ramen.
The food felt very fresh to me, and was definitely well cooked, I had no concern about food safety.
Mike / November 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm
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Went tonight. Seated right away, but only 2 or 3 other tables were empty. Couple of additioan groups and it could have easily been a wait. The gyoza were tasty. Too bad they not been pan fried separately as they ripped into pieces as you pull them apart.

My typical order is the shio. Pretty one-dimensional broth, but nothing offensive. Lacked the richness of Santouka. Noodles were great. The pork shoulder was well cooked and flavourful, but unfortunately I only seemed to get one medallion.

Also tried a few bites and slurps of the shoyu which was on par with the shio.

From the new ramen arrivals that I've been to, I'd put Raijin ahead of Sansotei, but behind Santouka for flavour and Kinton for overall value and experience. The one upside is that they have plenty of tables so if you're good with B/B+ quality ramen without the wait, this is the spot for you.

Staff were friendly, helpful, and prompt.
bob / November 30, 2012 at 11:09 am
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RAMEN IS BORING........NEXT TREND PLEASE!!
mikey / November 30, 2012 at 03:19 pm
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I got the butt squirts big time from this place
Todd replying to a comment from hop / December 5, 2012 at 11:16 am
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If the place is open and accepting YOUR money in exchange for THEIR products, you have every right to critique it, whether they opened five minutes ago or five years ago. There is no reason to use a different scale for "new" restaurants in a city that constantly has new restaurants. Not saying this applies to this resto since I've never been, but if you're not ready to work out the kinks before you start accepting money, the solution really is simple: work out the kinks and then accept the money.

liz / December 5, 2012 at 09:44 pm
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Having been to Tokyo really opened my eyes to the ramen trend- people take broth, noodles and egg quite seriously and I totally get it. There was definitely no shortage of ramen joints in Tokyo as they all offered different types of broth representing different styles in Japan. What people have failed to understand in Toronto when they criticize the hype is that ramen is not just simply broth and noodles. It is the product of hours of simmering and attention to detail to the components making up each bowl. There are places in Japan that don't even open if the broth isn't up to their standards!

Having said that, Raijin is actually quite good- milky tonkotsu broth rich and thick with pork bone flavor. I also favor the chewiness of the noodles at Raijin compared to Sansotei. They also do the tamago (egg) properly at Raijin as well. Unfortunately the pork isn't as delicious as Kinton or Sansotei but really, what you really need to appreciate in ramen is truly the broth, noodle and the egg.

Also- as a nurse, I also just wanted to say that food poisoning doesn't hit in 30 mins. Probably want to blame that on something you ate earlier in the day and up to 48 hours earlier. Just saying.
Raman / December 9, 2012 at 01:39 pm
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Broth and noodles were good...i would say the one thing this place needs to seriously improve is their chasiu (pork shoulder). The entire table I was with agreed that it was overcooked, tough and unappetizing. This needs to be melt in your mouth, tender and juicy. Owners please take this feedback.
helen replying to a comment from the real truth / December 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm
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um, yes it does. usually that's about how long it takes. i know because have had bad bouts in southeast asia when travelling.
not a doctor replying to a comment from helen / December 17, 2012 at 03:39 pm
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Wow, personal anecdote = medical degree.

Food poisoning is not a medical term; symptoms (and the timing of their onset) can be dependent on whether it is viral vs. bacterial.
Real Japanese / December 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm
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You guys could have sued or bring in health inspector if you really got poisoned. As the nurse said, assuming she is real, 48 hours is about right. I am no doctor, but I am also known to have a weak stomach and I know what its like and how long it takes to have gastroenteritis, and its not 30 minutes. Whoever is complaining is probably a fanboy of kinton or one of the other chain.

Bob, nobody point a gun at you to have you eat Ramen, you can go and eat something else if you don't like it. There are people who eats McDonalds daily, and there will always be others who hates it
Real Japanese replying to a comment from helen / December 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm
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South east asia? Thats a totally different ball game. Just remember, i am sure, if the food was really bad there, it won't be isolated to your bowl. There has to be more people getting sick, while I am not suggesting everyone will just hop on this board complaining, i am sure tehre will be enough concern to have people bringing in authorities.. i don't think they only serve that one piece of bad pork to you in the entire day....
auto shopper network / May 23, 2013 at 03:13 pm
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jc replying to a comment from DJ / June 1, 2013 at 03:38 pm
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I don't think you know what you are talking about. The symptoms for food poisoning can surface between 1 hour and 5 days.
james / October 18, 2013 at 11:46 pm
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Spaghetti in soup for $14?? you guys are crazzzy
Poop / October 27, 2013 at 08:26 pm
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Just here to say I got food poisoning right after eating food. I'm in no way stating I got food poisoning from this restaurant because I've never even been here. I went to the hospital for it. Quit running your mouths on topics you know little about for those of you who claim food poisoning takes hours.
James / December 27, 2013 at 12:09 am
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there is nothing special about this place

price is not cheaper
girls are not prettier
uniform is not edgier
not even a whole egg or corn in the ramen

sorry
Robert / February 23, 2014 at 10:24 am
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I agree soup is good (not great good) and no cute servers which is always a major factor in whether we visit a restaurant (again) or not, but definitely there are many cute women in there.
yukio / July 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm
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ICHIBAN! (Best)
Steph / July 9, 2014 at 11:11 am
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a little lost in translation but overall a great experience!


Got the Shio Tonkatsu Ramen comes with a black oil sitting on it which looked a little gasoliney but the owner said it was garlic sauce (and it tasted great!). Broth was so creamy and I was sad that my stomach couldnt eat more. I had hungry eyes and ordered the large :P
BF yid got Shio Chicken Ramen (they can give you chicken breast instead of pork). He ate more than I did! The noodles are similar to spagetti and I think he would have preferred the thick noodles that the pork ones have. Got corn side which was a good portion.

We got some ok apps : Japon Poutine (got with shoyu butter, which is literally soysauce and liquid butter mixed together, I would recommend the other one because it was just like more oil on fries aka heart attack) and Kara-age (pieces were not nugget sized so it was kinda hard to eat them).

Drinking is extremely cheap here and I wish I brought some more friends here!

Its not my fav ramen place BUT i would definitely go back to this mainly student populated ramen joint!

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