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Back in the day - oh, 50 years ago - the stretch of Dundas between Bay and University was downtown's original Chinatown, home to such culinary rites-of-passage as the legendary Sai Woo, Kwong Chow and Lichee Garden.
Since most of the historic nabe was leveled to make way for the new City Hall and a slew of hospitals, office towers and luxury hotels, the four-block strip has been home to a dozen or so cheap fast-food cafes and a few straggling Cantonese cantinas geared to the 9-to-5 crowd. Weekends, they roll up the sidewalk.
All that changed three years ago with the arrival Kenzo Ramen (138 Dundas W, at Elizabeth, 416-205-1155, kenzoramen.ca), the Korean-owned Japanese noodle house where lineups out the door are the norm rather than the exception. Several others are about to get in on the action.
Indie-owned Sansotei (179 Dundas W, at Chestnut, 647-748-3833, sansotei.com) has just opened with a short card of meal-in-one soups while Hokkaida-based chain Santouka is set to launch on the ground floor of the condo still under construction on the southwest corner of Dundas and Bay. We're guessing 2013.
No word if the imminent Bapbo Korean at 142 Dundas West virtually next door to Kenzo will have ramen on its menu but the newly minted Kimchi Korea House (149 Dundas W, at Chestnut, 416-599-1989) across the street most definitely does not though they do have udon. But there'll be oodles of slurpable noodles at the first local outpost of Vancouver's Raijin Ramen (3 Gerrard E, at Yonge) but first they have to complete the reno, something that's taking much longer than predicted.