KINTON RAMEN 51 Baldwin, at Beverley, 647-748-8900, kintonramen.com. Rating: NNNNN
And you thought getting into Guu was difficult! This Baldwin Village spinoff of the relentlessly popular Church Street izakaya shifts the focus from tapas-like bar snacks to massive bowls of Japanese noodles, to the point of obsession. Little wonder lines form outside the 30-seat sweatbox half an hour before it opens. And be prepared to get stuffed: leaving anything other than an empty bowl is considered bad form. Bonus: mouthwash in the washrooms. You'll need it! Best: to start, deep-fried boneless chicken wings in hot sauce; fiery cabbage kimchee; dense deep-fried tofu in Kewpie mayo; the only mains, meal-in-one bowls of soup based on four "secret" layered broths - shio (salty), miso (soybean paste), shoyu (soy sauce) and spicy (lighter fluid) - swimming with astonishingly firm fresh noodles, caramelized roast pork shoulder or fatty belly and various toppings, including soft-boiled eggs steeped in sake, seaweed and raw grated garlic; for the unconventional, ramen topped with Swiss cheese, frozen corn and Thai basil in miso broth spiked with butter.
Complete meals for $18 per person, including tax, tip and a lemonade. Average main $10.
Open for lunch daily 11:30 am to 3 pm. Dinner Sunday to Thursday 5 to 10:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 pm to midnight. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.