A visit at the Art Gallery of Ontario for the Evan Penny exhibition led us to Kinton Ramen afterwards. We had the Spicy Fried Chicken, Shio Ramen, Spicy Garlic Ramen (with extra meat), and the Vegetable Ramen.
I hesitate to compare A-OK Foods to other ramen shops, not that it takes much to set yourself apart in Toronto’s oligopoly of ramen imports right now. If you insist on a comparison though, think 416 Snack Bar and Momofuku Noodle Bar rolled into one, executed by the deft team behind Yours Truly.
As fans of Yours Truly, we had high hopes for A-OK Foods, and were happy to see some of our YT favourites like the pork ssam and salt cod inari plates on the menu. After poring over their hot/cold snacks and ramen menu, we ended up ordering the ssam, chino wings, fish in the weeds, shoyu ramen and Sichuan Tsukemen ramen. If all that sounds a bit eclectic, we also started with a round of horchatas. The obvious influence here being Chinese, Korean and Mexican.
I feel the need to add here that for those not already attuned to Sichuan flavours, A-OK’s tsukemen ramen may not be the best delivery system to introduce your tastebuds to the tongue numbing sensation of the chili-laced broth. The experience left some at our table confused and asking questions like: “will my tongue regain consciousness?” and “will my A be OK after eating this?” (the answer to both is yes… eventually).
We left with the impression that, by concept, A-OK is a work in progress and one worth revisiting. We already have it on good authority that A-OK will the rolling out a third ramen option of dandan style ramen noodles and are eagerly expecting the unexpected.
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There isn’t much that I can say that hasn’t already been said about David Chang and the Momofuku family. We went to the noodle bar for lunch and had a pleasant time. We didn’t much care for the chicken or ‘burnt honey’ soft serve, but their pork buns are the best I’ve had and the Momofuku ramen (poached egg, shredded pork, pork belly, scallions, nori and naruto) was as delicious. The broth for the ramen itself was surprisingly clear and light, almost healthy even, in the same way a nourishing chicken noodle soup can be… But I gotta say that it didn’t seem to taste as good as Ippudo.
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