musoshin ramen toronto

Popular ramen chain from Japan just opened its first Toronto location

A popular Japanese ramen chain has chosen Toronto for their first North American location.

It's called Musoshin Ramen, and it opened near Roncesvalles and Dundas for takeout only on Oct. 2, serving handcrafted Japanese cuisine and Japanese sweets. The location is their fourth ever in the world.

The small chain only has locations in Japan aside from Toronto, and is known for their light, vegetable-based broth as well as making their noodles, miso and koji on site.

The brand was started by Shin Inaba, whose first non-Japanese location was actually supposed to be in Bangkok, though that unfortunately ended up falling through.

The restaurant does five kinds of ramen, including a red ramen, a vegan Japanese-style curry ramen and a Kyoto white miso vegan ramen. They also serve curry rice, chashu don, tonkatsu sandwiches, karaage, takoyaki and cube-shaped shokupan bread. 

So how did Toronto end up with a location?

Inaba reached out with the idea to junior high pal Aoi Yoshida, who had moved to Toronto in 2003 and was working as a stay-at-home mom of three and baker with a flourishing Instagram business

Yoshida was inspired by her upbringing on a dairy farm to produce traditional Japanese sweets and desserts, and was originally intended to solely be resposible for baking and pastry at the new location.

Yoshida had been to Japan once in 2018 and worked at Inaba's restaurant, though that could have never prepared her for her business partner being stuck in Japan due to COVID-19. She had to learn how to run a restaurant and recreate Inaba's recipes from him over Zoom, opening the restaurant with her business partner overseas.

Now, there's no doubt that she's as close to mastering them as possible, telling blogTO: "People are quite happy, there are lots of returning customers, the whole neighbourhood is very welcoming."

She attributes their popularity not only to their delicious recipes and the desire to support the new business, which has valiantly gotten on its feet, but also to the fact that the neighbourhood is somewhat starved for a ramen joint. However, she also says the location is just plain convenient since she lives close by.

You may be even more likely to support this place when you learn that they incorporate an 18 per cent hospitality charge into all their menu items.

Yoshida said she's "not a big fan" of tipping, as it's not the norm in Japan, and she always felt awkward about how much to tip and not knowing who gets the money, ruining the end of the meal a bit.

Prices still aren't exorbitant, between $12 and $17. All employees at Musoshin are paid equally, as Yoshida feels they all work equally hard regardless of their role or skills, and "with the pandemic too, I want to protect my workers."

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