Udon Kitanoya is a restaurant serving up bowls of thick Osaka-style udon noodles.
The Annex spot joins a small number of shops in the city trying to bring these slurpable wheat noodles—which have yet to hit peak popularity in Toronto, compared to ramen—to the forefront of Japanese cuisine.
The restaurant is spacious, with Japanese accents that are generally understated, save for the handrawn udon mural by Toronto artist Kayla Buium.
Touting itself as the first restaurant to make udon Kansai-style (the region that encompasses Osaka), Kitanoya places a big emphasis on its signature dashi broth: made from Japanese Kombu (a type of kelp) and a mix of dried tuna, sardine, macakarel, and bonito.
If you're trying to convert a serial ramen eater over the udon side, the smell of the broth is a great selling point (the simplest order, the Kake Udon, is super fragrant), as is the affordability.
All large bowls of udon are priced at around $12, and as far as udon texture goes, Kitanoya's does a decent job in retaining chew after sitting in broth for a while.
The niku udon is a big portion, and comes with a sprinkling of simmered beef and onions.
You can have the option of paying an extra $1 for an extra onsen egg: a bowl of runny, soft-boiled egg with a mix of tempura flakes and green onions which you can add to taste.
The curry udon is by far my favourite: a blend of Japanese curry, which is more sweet than spicy.
It's mixed with dashi stock to create an addictively-thick and gooey bowl. Good chopstick skills are required for this heavy dish.
The Kitanoya Gyu Suki Udon is another good one, if you like a chilled noodle. Beef is simmered sukiyaki style, and served with a boniyo soya soup base and an egg.
The onsen orooshi udon is a warm serving of noodles without soup. It comes topped with an onsen egg, tempura bits, green onions, nori seaweed, and grated daikon radish.
Aside from udon, there are also tempura ($3.50) and bowls of donburi, like the gyu don.
Rice is buried underneath a pile of slow-simmered beef with onions and an egg.
You can pair it with a refreshing matcha slush or a strawberry shake, both $5 each.
Since Udon Kitanoya is owned by the same people behind the insanely popular Fuwa Fuwa, it might feel natural to head next door after udon for some souffle pancakes.