3160 Steeles Avenue East (Unit 2)
Before actually coming to try Niwa-tei, I had heard mixed opinions about it. Some people really love it, and others don't care for it much. It seems to be that way too if you do a quick google search for Niwa-tei reviews. For me, I would have to say it was a mixed-opinion experience as well.
This restaurant is located in the hidden back alley-way known as Japan Town or J-town. Considering its located right off of the busy street of Steeles Ave, I found the J-town area shockingly peaceful. Once you walk past the chinese buffet and the car dealership, it's like you enter a whole new world. Despite not being exposed, lots of people know about it. Niwatei was a smaller sized restaurant, but was definitely more comfortable and spacious than some other Japanese places like Japango and Inakaya.
Outside of Niwa-Tei
Inside of Niwa-Tei
The menu is rather simplistic here. Being a noodle-house, there isn't much to order aside from noodles. They offer a selection of about 6-7 different types to order from, but are essentially the same noodles just with either a different soup base, or different ingredients. I really liked that they had pictures of everything on the menu. That way you know exactly what you're ordering. If you have a big appetite like my personal trainer friend Sam, you'd pay a little extra and upgrade to a combo option. This option allows you to choose a side, and a dessert.
Mini Curry Rice as part of the Ramen Set ($12.80)
As a side, Sam chose the mini curry rice out of other options. It was a bit watery but I liked the tasted of it. It wasn't the overly powerful Indian curries, and kind of reminded me of those Korean instant curries that my old roommate in university used to make.
"Miso Ramen" ($7.80) -Miso based noodle soup
This was the ramen that I ordered, and I ordered it with extra corn ($0.5) and seaweed ($0.5). They actually offer butter as an extra add-on here too! My friend Elina swears by it, but I wasn't adventurous enough to try. Regardless the noodles were quite good! They were the perfect chewiness, and had a good bounciness! As I worked my way to the bottom of the bowl, I found I became very thirsty, and that's when I realized that the soup was just all MSG.
Some of my other friends ordered the Tonkotsu noodles which seems to be a popular choice here. I didn't end up snapping a photo of it, but it looked essentially the same as the Miso Ramen, with a soup base that was more of a milky white colour. I tried a bit of the soup and I found it a bit bland and not as savory as it should be. Surprisingly I think I like the one from Nissin Foods (出前一丁) more!
Nissin Tonkotsu Instant Noodles
Vanilla Ice Cream with Lemon
This is the dessert that came with Sam's Ramen Set. There are a bunch of other dessert options, but he opted for the daily special which ended up being this. I didn't really taste it, nor am I a big fan of lemon, so I wouldn't be able to give this dessert a fair review.
Overall not too bad of a meal for the prices that were charged. The noodles were made really well, but the soup bases could be better. If you can get past that, I think this would be a really good ramen place. I wouldn't mind this as a quick filling lunch spot if I ever worked in the area. I will also definitely try the butter in my noodles next time!