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With the recent opening of Santouka, it’s clear the ramen hype in Toronto has yet to die down. This ramen joint, which originated in Hokkaido, Japan, is located on Dundas, just east of Yonge.


They’re open from 11am to 11pm, 7 days a week. Whether you’re dropping by for lunch or dinner, try to get there early or you’ll be waiting in line in for a while. Mike and I dropped by for lunch on a Sunday. We arrived 5 minutes before opening and a long line had already formed. Luckily, we were seated during the first seating.

The interior

For those who like customization, you’re in for a treat. At Santouka, you have customization options with respect to the hardness of the noodles, amount of lard and amount of salt in the broth.

The open kitchen

Santouka is known for their Toroniku broths which comes in several variations – shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso and Kara miso (spicy hot miso). I decided to go with the Toroniku Shio Ramen – simmered pork jowl and salt flavoured ramen ($15.90).

Toroniku Shio Ramen

The first thing you’ll notice is that the meat and toppings – bamboo shoots, green onions and fungus are served on the side. The Toroniku ramen comes with pork jowl (cheek meat) which, according to their website, “is very rare and only 200-300g can be taken from each pig. It has a very rich flavour and is tender like fatty tuna.” The website doesn’t lie… the meat is incredibly rich and just melted in my mouth. They’re quite generous with the meat which helps to justify the steep price tag.

The Toroniku Shio Ramen Toppings

The broth was rich and creamy, similar to the Tonkotsu broth at Sansotei. The flavour was incredible and even though it was salt flavoured ramen, I didn’t find it too salty. In the broth department, I have to say it’s a bit of a toss up between Santouka and Sansotei. They’re both excellent!

In contrast to Sansotei’s soft (and slightly mushy) noodles, the noodles here had a nice bite to them – exactly how I like them. It was a perfect bowl of ramen!

For those of you who like their ramen with an egg, the Toroniku ramen’s don’t come with one. However, a Soft Boiled Egg can be added for an extra $1.60. Mine was perfectly cooked with a runny yolk. Delicious!

A Soft Boiled Egg

Mike went with the Shoyu Cha-Shu Ramen ($12.80). The cha-shu ramen is served with a double portion of their slow-simmered pork cha-shu. It came with 6 large pieces of delicious, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of meat. It’s probably the best cha-shu you’ll find in a bowl of ramen in the city. As for the broth, I only had a sip but Mike really enjoyed it.

Shoyu Cha-Shu Ramen

Sansotei’s strength is their broth while Kinton’s is their noodles. But Santouka definitely has it all – broth, noodles and toppings. I’d say their currently winning the ramen wars in Toronto.

At a glance:
• A ramen chain which originated in Hokkaido, Japan
• Open from 11am to 11pm, 7 days a week
• Long lines are not unusual
• Their Toroniku ramen is a must-order

Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4.5 stars
• Service: 3 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars

Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon

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