Friday, July 17, 2009

Kenzo: The Story of a Noodle House in Downtown Toronto

I love noodles - anyone who knows me can vouch for that. We were thrilled when we saw that a noodle house was opening close to home a couple weeks ago; and better yet, a Japanese noodle house! We passed by every day wondering when it would open its doors....little did we know that the red banner outside the door was an indication that they were open for business!

On our first visit to Kenzo, we had miso ramen, shoyu ramen and takoyaki (octopus dough balls) - the basic noodle bowls reminded us of the efficient yet delicious meals we'd have along the Tokyo subway on our last holiday. We ended up chatting with the owner after telling him the OPEN sign should be lit! He is an endearing man who was overwhelmed by how busy his little venture has become. He has sold his North York and Marham locations to focus on this new, high traffic location. They were so unexpectedly busy the first week that they ran out of noodles! He also showed us the intended full menu - Kenzo is not just a noodle house afterall, the menu was to include izakaya including charcoal grill skewers. He told us about the special charcoal that needs to be imported and other ingredients key to Japanese stock and dishes....we couldn't wait to try it out. Today, we made a return visit and were happy to find that the menu was almost completely ready. There are some familiar options like pork belly and enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon (in fact, there are many bacon wrapped options!), and also some exotic ones like chicken heart.

While I wouldn't consider Kenzo extraordinary, it satisfies in flavour and the basic qualities of a noodle house: fast, simple, and affordable - you can have a bowl of ramen for $6 and splurge for some skewers at $3 each for some variety. I think ramen and takoyaki will become a regular part of our diet going forward!

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