Doing my best frugal Chinese impression, I originally wanted to hit up the Ramen Butcher when they were doing their $5.00 soft-opening special. However, there was a line out the door stretching to Main Street. Grace and I were in no mood to wait an hour for a bowl of noodles, so we went to Kintaro instead. This time around, not only was the line significantly shorter, I actually found free parking in Chinatown. So I ultimately saved some money somehow. Oh and free noodle refills? Hey, I was all over that...
Starting off, we decided to try the Spicy Gyoza first. Grace had already had the original and okonomi on a previous visit (which were so-so). This version featured made in-house dumplings topped with a spicy garlic paste. These featured a thin and crispy skin while the meat inside was moist and meaty. There was a noticeable spice as well as a toasted garlic finish. As a baseline, I had to get the Classic Ramen with woodear mushroom, pickled ginger, green onions and the choice of fatty or medium aburi pork chashu. The intensely rich and creamy tonkotsu broth had its fair share of pork fat and gelatin. It goes without saying that the broth was porky exhibiting considerable depth (yet not too salty). I enjoyed it, but finishing all of it would have been a chore. As for the noodles, they were thin and toothsomely chewy. I got the fatty pork belly for this bowl and it was lightly torched. It could've been softer as it didn't melt-in-my-mouth as expected. And yes, since noodle refills were free, I had my 3rd helping...
Since one bowl isn't enough for me (despite the noodle refill), I decided to try a 2nd one being the "Black Ramen" featuring tonkotsu broth with roasted garlic oil, fresh noodles, medium aburi pork chashu and medium boiled marinated egg. Exhibiting the same qualities as the classic, but with the addition of an impactful amount of roasted garlic. It was fragrant in smell and in taste. The medium chashu was surprisingly softer than the belly in my opinion. With a soft yolk, the egg was a touch salty though. One thing that didn't work for me was the ginger as it was too strong compared to the other ingredients. Grace went for something lighter in the Tori Ramen made of chicken broth with bamboo shots, green onion, nori, medium egg, medium chashu and thicker ramen noodles. Personally, I actually liked the chicken broth as it was concentrated with a natural sweetness in addition to the salt. It was lightly silky and just rich enough. The thicker noodles were chewy and went well with the lighter broth. Suffice to say, I was pretty stuffed from my 3 servings of ramen. For some people, the complimentary refill is a must since the initial portion size is modest. As much as I liked the rich broth, it can be rather heavy after awhile. Much like most food, your enjoyment will be purely subjective.
- Extremely rich and creamy broth (for those who like that)
- Complimentary noodle refill (a necessity IMO)
- Decent chashu, especially the medium
- Small portions (but there is a complimentary refill)
- Broth can be too greasy/heavy for some