I’m always venturing for ramen places from one city to another. Different areas seem to have their own ways of presenting their own businesses to the public. I visited the Markham area recently and it seems like all of the businesses are within one large complex separated by roads and residential areas. They might be less accessible if you don’t know how to drive, BUT there are lots of other ways to get there. In Markham, I am sure everyone knows Sansotei is a legit ramen place, but let’s explore somewhere a little different within the Markham area – New Kennedy Square.
Located up at Hwy 7 & Kennedy, New Kennedy Square is a large plaza with food, businesses, and entertainment. To get here by public transit, I simply board the Kennedy YRT bus at Steeles and Kennedy near Pacific Mall. There are many restaurants in this area and a lot of them have been open since I was young. (Now I will let you guess my age ;). There are three places that have ramen offerings on their menu. Let’s talk about them one by one.
Hokkaido-Style Tonkotsu Ramen ft. Hokkaido ramen with Stew pork soft ribs ($8.99)
Blue Ocean Café is a Hong Kong style café offering a wide selection of tasty food items from Malaysian curry to rice combos to noodles in soup. They also offer a special house-made char siu known as “sam sok” cha siu. Since they only offer a limited amount each day, they’re usually sold out by lunch or early dinner time. As I was studying this menu, there was one small section that offers Hokkaido-style ramen. Blue Ocean’s Hokkaido-style ramen consists of a tonkotsu (pork bone) soup base topped with standard topping such as kikurage mushroom, corn, sesame, and a soft boiled egg. As for the main protein, you can choose in a choice of stewed pork soft ribs, enoki mushrooms, beef, or teriyaki chicken. This time, I decided to try the stew pork ribs. At uptown ramen restaurants, stew pork soft ribs seems to appear often on menus. The stewed pork soft ribs had a strong flavour with a soft & chewy texture. Overall, their noodles & toppings were quite decent. However, the flavour of the tonkotsu broth was more on the salty side. Furthermore, there was a lack of creaminess in their pork bone broth. If you are not comparing this with authentic Japanese ramen, this is worth a try.
Pork Belly Cheese Ramen
Raku is a Japanese-style ramen and izakaya establishment, which has a selection of tapas, robata grill, sushi, sashimi, and ramen. They used to offer their ramen in a stone pot when they just started. Recently, they changed it back to a standard ramen bowl. I am used to eating ramen place at in the downtown Toronto area, so I don’t expect too much at uptown ramen establishments. From their ramen selection, I tried something that was a little different from the standard selection of shio, shoyu, and miso). I selected the dish below.
Pork Belly Cheese Ramen – Their house-made pork belly was actually one of the specialties that they are offering as a separate ramen item. Accompanied with pork belly, this is a tonkotsu (pork bone) based ramen topped with green onion, kikurage mushroom, naruto maki, bean sprouts, corn, and cheese. I had a variety of toppings in this bowl. Indeed, cheese had enhanced the creaminess of their tonkotsu soup base, which masked the disadvantage of their soup base. Their pork belly cha shu had less fat content on the surface, and the meat itself was quite tender. Overall, this was quite interesting to try.
Original Shio Pork Bone Ramen + Wonton & Seaweed
Similar to Deer Garden, Chef Papa Tea & Noodle Bar has a “customize your own noodles” concept. Pork bone based ramen is one of the selections on their menu. You’re given a large piece of paper for your noodle selections.
Here are the steps from the ramen section:
Hokkaido Pork Bone Ramen
Step 1: Pick your soup flavour
- Shio (Original sea salt)
- Red miso
- Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
- Szechuan dan dan sesame ramen
Step 2: Choose your noodles (Obviously you’d choose ramen noodles in this box, but there are other noodle options available on the list.)
- Ramen noodles
- Rice vermicelli
- Instant noodles
Step 3: Choose Toppings (two choices)
(Note: The ramen package includes half of a soft boiled egg, corn, and kikurage mushrooms. On top of these, you can pick two more toppings. Depending on the topping, additional charges may apply.)
- Pork cha shu
- Beef brisket
- Luncheon meat,
- Slice lamb
(Optional) Step 4: Pick a side order (additional charges may apply)
(Optional) Step 5: Pick a drink (coffee or tea; additional charges may apply for other drinks)
Since it was my first time visiting, I was a little crazy with the toppings. I decided to add wonton ($1.75 extra) as one of them. I also thought nori seaweed was not included in the package, so I ordered seaweed as another one of my selections. Perhaps, extra seaweed was added to this ramen so it had completely enhanced the flavour of their tonkotsu broth. The overall taste ended up quite well at the end. If you like your ramen to be completely customized, Chef Papa is the place for you.