You want to know how I genuinely react to food I absolutely, unequivocally enjoy? I fucking cuss. The swearing is impartial to genre or value, and it slips out whether I’m dressed to the nines doing my best impression of a lady at a swanky restaurant or slumming it in a run-down eatery.
Cussing tells me that I love, love, love what I’m eating.
I don’t control it. Only food can.
My foul mouth started firing before I even got to stuff it when I sat down for lunch at Sansotei – a ramen shop that made its debut last fall. The fumes emanating from the bowl were…I’m getting ahead of myself.
You can easily miss Sansotei while walking along Dundas Street in the Downtown Core, because there’s no overhead sign with big, bold letters to let you know you’ve come to the right place. Follow the address number in that case. Or if you drop by during peak hours, just look for the queue of ramen enthusiasts stretching far out some door.
Inside, you’ll find a single row of a few communal tables that can each seat six people, as well as a pair of stools at the counter by the window and two small booths near the kitchen. Unfortunately, there’s no bar for those of us who consider eating ramen a solo activity, but if you’re anything like me, getting placed across a complete stranger isn’t much of an issue because you’ll be face down in your bowls.
The main menu is short and sweet, listing a total of four ramen options differing by broth: tonkotsu ($9.25), miso ($9.50), shio ($8.90) and tonkotsu shoyu ($8.90). Next order of business is selecting the noodles: thin, regular or thick. Every bowl includes chashu, an egg, green onions and an ingredient unique to each type of broth. Fork over $2.00 for extra pork, $1.00 for another egg, $0.50 for additional veggies and/or $1.00 for an ampler serving of noodles should you want more.
“Holy shit,” were the two words I managed to utter under my breath the second my bowl of tonkotsu ramen was set before me. The intense, porky fumes danced their way up my nose into my mind and blew it.
When the time came to put some of that milky pork bone soup in my mouth, my eyes rolled to the back of my head, prompting my head to tilt back, and a four-letter word expressing absolute bliss escaped my lips: “Fuck.” It was like creamy, rich, not too salty or too fatty, and supremely-porky liquid silk. Bathing in its glory were two scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth slices of more-fatty-than-meaty chashu, a halved egg with a jiggly yolk, wood ear mushrooms, green onions and a tangle of regular (referring to thickness) noodles with good bite and elasticity.
The side order of zangi ($4.50) – deep-fried chicken – served with a lemon wedge was devoured with a smile. Think nicely-seasoned chunks of chicken with notes of ginger, lightly breaded and fried until they reached a balance of crisp, golden exteriors and moist, juicy centers without being overly greasy.
The mood at Sansotei was pretty chill and the noise level low. Then again, I made a point to go (and will always go) during off-hours because I hate crowds and I hate lineups, and both of those factors are off-the-charts ridiculous during the lunch and dinner rushes. Take note.
Portions might seem a little small at first, but they’re substantial – at least when the heavy tonkotsu broth is concerned. Prices are fair, maybe even a steal given how good my ramen was.
Just how good?
Fuck man, I drank from the bowl.
179 Dundas Street West | map