August 21, 2014
Nov 21, 2012
08:00 AM

First Look: Ramen Raijin, a new Gerrard Street noodle house from a Vancouver ramen team

Tonkotsu (Images: Gizelle Lau)

It’s clearly the year of ramen for Toronto. In the past month, we’ve seen the opening of at least three new shops: Shogun Ramen, Santouka and, most recently, Ramen Raijin. Located at the southeast corner of Yonge and Gerrard, Raijin is prime real estate for downtown foot traffic, not to mention Ryerson students. Even Corey Mintz is a fan, it seems.

The shop, named after the Japanese god of thunder, is owned by Daiji Matsubara, who opened two of Vancouver’s most popular ramen shops: Kintaro (1999) and Motomachi Shokudo (2008). Plans to open a Toronto shop have been in the works for the past two to three years, and this 3,500 square foot location — currently in its soft-opening phase — will serve 80-plus when fully completed, making it significantly larger than any of the Vancouver locations.

Inside, the space blends traditional Japanese aesthetic with a modern, Western feel, highlighted by wooden banquettes, tables and stools. There are two dining rooms: one at the front and one at the back, along with a bar overlooking the kitchen. Soon to come: a six-foot statue of Raijin to watch over the main dining room.

Running the show here is General Manager Tak Kawashima, hailing from Motomachi, who aims to show that ramen can be more than just instant noodle packages. On the menu, ramen bowls range in price from $9-$12.50 and feature three types of noodles: thick noodles for tonkotsu, medium-thick wavy noodles for chicken shoyu and thin noodles for chicken shio.

The traditional tonkotsu soup features the characteristic rich, milky broth complete with fixings: BBQ pork, cabbage, sprouts, tamago egg, nori and black fungus. Then there’s a chicken-based soup: a clear broth that can be had with either shoyu or shio. Soon to come, Raijin will offer bamboo-charcoal black miso ramen — a signature at Motomachi.

For appetizers, there’s the necessary gyoza ($2.50), karaage and Japanese poutine: fries topped with teriyaki sauce, mozzarella cheese, green onions, nori and mayo.

The liquor license is pending, and for now the shop is open for lunch until 3 p.m., while dinner starts at 5 p.m. The grand opening takes place Dec. 1, at which point the shop will be open from 11:30 a.m. through to 11 p.m. daily.

Ramen Raijin, 3 Gerrard St. E., 647-748-1500

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