Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya – An Okinawan-Style Izakaya
With the mission to complete our Hashigo Project, we visited the second restaurant on our list, RYOJI Ramen & Izakaya.
Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya, branched from Ryoji Inc. in Japan, is an Okinawan-style izakaya in Toronto. I have been in search of Okinawan cuisine in Toronto ever since I came back from my trip to Okinawa. I still remember tears welling up in my eyes when I took my first bite of a piece of local, homemade Okinawan tofu.
Okinawan is known for healthy & simple eating, RYOJI adds a twist to it. At RYOJI, traditional Okinawan dishes are made modern by adding fusion details like lotus root puree and wasabi pesto, which also contribute to the art of plating.
The mimiga/sliced steamed pork ear ($6) with the chili sauce option has the perfect amount of kick to it and was surprisingly refreshing.
The peanut sauce in the Ji-ma-mi ($8) beautifully complements the Okinawan tofu; the tofu is made in-house and has a chewy texture similar to a mozzarella cheese ball.
Nanban karaage/deep fried chicken ($12) comes in huge, juicy pieces and is enjoyed with house tartar sauce.
Okinawa rafute/braised pork belly ($11) is prepared sous-vide and is a perfect match with the marinated, ramen-style soft boiled egg. The pork fat melts in the mouth while the egg adds texture and the lotus puree adds flavour.
The toasted sesame powder that looks like feta cheese on the sashimi salad garden ($12) is a delightful surprise.
Kobe beef steak ($23) is not so memorable if you’ve experienced the real thing. The presentation, however, is beautiful.
Beef tartare ($15) is a bit of a disappointment because of the soggy crostini. The takoyaki ($7) is made with mashed potatoes instead of flour battre; I would name it ‘potatoyaki’ instead (a little more generous on the octopus would be appreciated), or simply change it into korokke balls (potato croquette, which is also a popular dish in Japan).
Sata andago/Okinawan donut ($6) is perfect for those who can’t choose between carbs or sugar, chocolate or vanilla. Mini sized donuts are prepared fresh to order and drizzled with chocolate sauce with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
(photos taken with my iPhone 6)
All in all, Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya was a great experience and I can’t wait to go again.