The five of us (four adults, one child) went to eat at Ajisen Ramen today, located at
5229 Yonge Street, North York, ON M2N 5P8
I am not a professional restaurant critic, so I’m just going to tell you what I thought about the place.
I love ramen, especially tonkotsu ramen. Apparently, this place makes all of their soup broth with pork bones, so I was excited. Great decor, and the staff were quite friendly. However, despite being all Chinese (I think) they all spoke some typical Japanese phrases, for example irrashaimasse and arigato gozaimasu (although barely understandable due to their thick accents). I guess this adds to the atmosphere.
We had 2xajisen ramen, miso ramen and ginger pork teishoku. For appetizers, we started off with gyoza, tori no kara-age, ebi-fry and bbq pork (cha-shu).
Simple breakdown of the meal:
gyoza– on the bad side. The skin was too thick, so it didn’t balance out the filling, which was sparse and mainly cabbage. When I make gyoza, I always put tons of garlic in the filling. I don’t think this gyoza had any garlic at all!
tori no kara age (deep fried chicken bits) – alright. one of us thought that the chicken was a little off, but I couldn’t tell. The breading was nice and crispy, but I think their oil was a little old. Not too salty, and the meat was moist which was also nice.
ebi-fry (deep fried breaded shrimp) – on the good side. Despite the oil being a little old and the crust too thick, it wasn’t bad. Decent sized shrimp, and the tail was nice and crispy (I like eating the tail) It was accompanied with some wasabi, the reason for which I didn’t understand.
BBQ pork – on the good side. Small, but the flavour was alright. However, tasted like it was nuked. Since it looked like they cut off all the fat, it wasn’t fatty enough and was dry!
Miso ramen – lacking. Too salty, even for miso ramen. The miso overpowered the original tonkotsu broth flavour, so it was like I was eating miso paste instead. Good toppings, though. I would have preferred a runny egg instead of the hard boiled one, but this is my preference. Noodles are more like al dente spaghettini (with extra egg). No waves and curls, and the texture was flat and boring. The noodles were not slightly chewy, like they should be (in my opinion).
Ajisen ramen – lacking. I didn’t eat it, so I’ll just give you the opinion of the two that did: the soup was okay but didn’t taste like it was made with any care. It tasted almost instant, and prefabricated. They had the same opinion on the noodles.
Ginger pork – alright, except for the miso soup (which was bad bad bad). Nice flavour on the pork, but accompanied by some tired looking cabbage and very unripe tomato slices (which is okay, so that’s not what we went there for). The pork was pork belly, so it had nice stripes of fat. But what was with the miso soup? It was…sweet?!!
As an aside, why does Japanese food made by people who do not know the "real" taste of Japanese food always on the sweet side? WHY? Living in Canada, it makes me very sad to know that the vast majority of Japanese restaurants in Toronto serve overly-sweetened food, making people here believe that that is what Japanese food actually tastes like. And even the food at this chain restaurant, of Japanese origins, has altered their flavour. Why?? People here will never know how "real" Japanese food tastes with this standard of quality.
Anyway, overall, the food at Ajisen Ramen is so-so. It’s a cheap present, packaged in pretty wrapping paper and a big bow. More of a date place, where food is not a primary concern (but getting into the other person’s pants is). Livens up the north Yonge St. area, though, which is kind of dead.
I think I like Kenzo Ramen better, only because I can see their huge pots of broth simmering away in the kitchen, and everything tastes a little more homemade.