One of the things I miss dearly about Japan and New York are the ramen bars. While these are native to Japan and have been imported to New York City, it's definitely hard to tell them apart. You get inside the restaurant. It's extremely packed, with a few cooks standing at the bar and serving people who are sitting down.
And of course, all you really want to get is a big bowl of ramen and maybe dumplings on the side. What's so great about this? Ah, the atmosphere! You're close to the cooks and can easily chat them up (if they speak English!)... You're close with your friends, sitting together and sharing the dumplings. The smell of ingredients cooking is strong, and it feels like you've stepped into another world.
I've been on the lookout for a seedy, crowded, aromatic ramen joint in Toronto, but have yet to find one... I guess I'll have to save this mission for another trip.
On the bright side, though, the search made me run into Manpuku on 105 McCaul Street, right by the Art Gallery of Ontario. Tucked away in a food court, this Japanese restaurant provides the cheapest and best-tasting Japanese fast food I've had in Canada. So I guess I can't complain!
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