A few nights ago my friends and I went to try a small ramen restaurant tucked into that ever-popular Chinese corner of Silver Star Boulevard (peeps from Scarborough would know what I’m talking about), located right beside the infinitely more well-known Destiny Bubble Tea. We were celebrating one of my friend’s birthdays and, given his love of ramen (on par with my love of Montana’s ribs, I’ve been told), chose this venue for our little get-together.
Called Yokozuna (which is the highest rank that a sumo wrestler can attain), this little
restaurant is modern, well-lit, and full of staff that enthusiastically greet you loudly in that classic Japanese greeting one gets when entering many sushi establishments. Side note: One of these days I gotta look up what that salutation is. They yell it with such gusto that I’ve always wondered what the hell it is they’re saying.
Now, when someone says ramen restaurant in the GTA, people immediately will think of either Kenzo (if you’re a local) or Ajisen (if you used to live in Asia). But there’s much more than ramen on the menu here. Yokozuna offers sushi, okonomiyaki, and various rice dishes. It is, in short, a rather comprehensive Japanese restaurant. Their signature dish was, however, definitely ramen, as evidenced by the large specialty menu detailing just about all the permutations and ingredients that a simple bowl of soup noodle can take.
WW ordered the red miso ramen off of the special menu, while yours truly ordered a simple dynamite roll sushi, having eaten quite substantially a few hours previously due to another fuction (what can I say, I gets quite popular). The total bill came up to around $20 or so after taxes and tips, so it’s quite reasonable.
So how did everything taste? Well, for those of you who don’t have time to read further on, let me sum everything up in one sentence: “Good, but could be better”. For the rest
of you cool enough to stick around, let me explain a bit further. Firstly, the broth, which is absolutely the KEY thing I look for in ramen, is very good. It’s tasty without being overly salty. It seems to be missing a little bit of complexity in its flavour, and that’s the only thing preventing it from getting full marks. So the soup definitely passes the test. The ingredients were plentiful, though WW found that the pork wasn’t as tender as Kenzo’s. I think they use a more lean cut here, which is better for you, if not for your tastebuds. Then we come to my biggest gripe: the ramen itself (uh-oh). It was served al dente, as in not fully cooked and with a little bit of firmness. I’m a big fan of this in pastas, but NOT in ramen. I’ve been told that this is a personal choice, and that different places have different preferences when it comes to noodle firmness, so I guess the restaurant’s preference simply didn’t match mine. Overall? Not a bad tasting dish, but quite a few points lost in my books.
of the rice left a lot to be desired, mostly because Yokozuna uses a very dense kind that feels like congealed sticky rice. The saving grace was the dipping sauce. I’ve made a habit of asking for spicy mayo sauce for sushi (yeah yeah unauthentic, I know, talk to my other blog post about that) and this place’s homemade condiment was beautiful. it was light with a slight kick to it, but a hint of sweetness too. So overall, the sushi was average as well.
A cute unexpected highlight was that, due to the large orders we were placing, we could get half a pound of salmon sashimi for $2, which proved to be fantastic value due to its sheer freshness and thick juicy cuts. This one is a definite winner. Too bad it was mentioned by the owner only as a bit of an afterthought.
Final point I’d like to make is: The service was excellent the whole night. Every single server in the restaurant is helpful, quick to notice my flailing arms (and sometimes limbs) when I want to order something/ask stupid questions, and speak very decent English. Plus points for that.
I would definitely consider returning to try some of their other offerings, like the okonomiyaki, and perhaps their spicy ramen, but overall I have to say I’ve had better. Still worth a shot for those who are either a) curious to try a ramen house that serves a lot of variety of food and b) wanted to go to Destiny but found it too full of uber skinny Asian teens with funny hair that chat way too loud and are therefore left wanting to go someplace else.
–Final verdict: Boleh Makan!
Yokozuna Japanese Noodle Eatery
633 Silver Star Blvd
Scarborough, ON M1V 5N1