Niwatei, which means "Castle of the Feather Boat" in Japanese, is a month old Ramen restaurant found in the J-Town complex in Markham. I heard good things about Niwatei from a fellow Ramen enthusiast and so my friend and I were excited to go try it out.
Niwatei focuses on different types of ramen with different broth options. You have a choice of Miso, Shio (soy sauce), and Tonkotsu (pork bone soup). Everything from the noodles to the broth and condiments are made in house.
The interior of the space is highlighted with original manga art as well as ramen-related paraphernalia. Playful and lighthearted J-pop music plays constantly in the background.
For an appetizer, we order the Gyoza ($5.80) - 6 pieces of boiled and fried pork pot stickers with chives, cabbage, ginger, leeks, soy sauce and sesame oil in hand-rolled dough. The gyoza dumplings are served with a light vinegar sauce. We found them a bit on the soggy side but they tasted fresh and were a nice way to get the meal started.
Next we order the Tonkotsu Shio Ramen ($8.80 - top photo) and this comes in a large bowl almost fully submerged in broth. Some of the slivers of roasted pork, boiled egg, corn and beansprouts peep out from under the broth.
The Tonkotsu Shio Ramen's broth is full-flavoured and a little smoky. The noodles are fresh and have their own mildly salty flavour. The bowl is more than enough for one hungry person and is incredibly filling even if you don't finish all the broth. We found it to be a bit milder in flavour to Kenzo Ramen's Tonkotsu.
We're full, but there's always room for dessert, especially if they have Mochi ice cream on the menu ($4.50). Mochi is composed of small balls of red bean and vanilla ice cream rolled in a glutinous rice bun.
The texture of mochi is quite interesting, piercing through the warm dough and gettting to the cold ice cream is a real treat. Red bean and vanilla go well together and the whole experience brings a delightful and refreshing end to our meal.