Update, May 2016: Look inside the new Kinton Ramen in downtown Montreal. Months after two successful pop-ups at Kinka Izakaya, Kinton, the wildly popular Toronto ramen pioneer, will open a Montreal branch at 1211 Bishop downtown, a hop, skip, and a slurp from Misoya, Nakamishi, and Ichifuku. The Japanese soup peddler, originally an offshoot of Vancouver's Guu izakaya, but now under the aegis of the Kinka Family restaurant group, took Toronto by storm in 2012 with noodles custom-made from Alberta flour, collagen-rich broths, and Japanese-imported kitchen gizmos and knowhow. Kinton now operates five ramen restaurants in Toronto, all managed by Nobuaki "Aki" Urata, who learned the ramen trade in Japan as a teenager, before moving to Canada. Urata went on to graduate from George Brown College, and worked at Vancouver's influential Kintaro for seven years.
In a 2013 rundown of Toronto's top ramen, Globe and Mail food critic Chris Nuttall-Smith wrote of Kinton: "The seasoning and concentration get right up in your face. And man, it’s delicious!" The menu is laser-focused on classic pork and chicken broth based soups, both of which can be enhanced a few different ways (shoyu, miso, spicy). Pork broth can be ordered light, regular, or rich (wherein the kitchen adds a healthy dose of back fat), and noodles come in two varieties; thicker for pork broth, and thinner for chicken broth. Kinton's ramen toppers range from conventional (nori, seaweed, bean sprouts, scallions, seasoned egg), to a bit more eccentric (butter, and Swiss cheese, which Nuttall-Smith noted "isn’t halfway bad"). Expect beers and sakes, cold and hot izakaya-style plates (karaage, takoyaki, gyoza), and some creative promotions too. Look for Kinton Ramen to open sometime in April or May—Kinka Izakaya's management reports that construction will start this week.