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Category: Ramen Page 1 of 3

G-men Ramen Steveston

We were in Steveston and looking for lunch. Though this being a Saturday, the historic fishing village was busy and all their popular spots saw lengthy lines.

So wanting to eat sooner than later, we stopped at the new ramen place that just opened up, Steveston’s first. Although, had I known the restaurant was without air conditioning, I might have reconsidered our idea of hot noodles in broth on a hot summer’s day. None-the-less here we were, two amongst many with the same idea. We were able to grab two stools at the very back bar. And there we would be ignored by the busy staff, after we ordered and they delivered our two bowls of ramen. To paint a better picture, it was a struggle to get our bill to settle up and leave. This was despite a line at the door for those wanting to dine in.

I went for their most popular choice, the miso ramen, I added butter and corn to it for $2.50 more, and added an egg for $1 more. Authentic chicken and pork broth with their homemade miso seasoning and thick noodles. This was already a rich serving, and I don’t think the butter made a difference in that regard, except for additional calories. I did like the sweetness the corn added and how they popped with each bite.

My guest ordered their “RCMP” ramen advertised as being “addictively spicy”. She too added an egg, because after all ramen isn’t the same without a soft boiled egg. It was exactly as she expected, spicy with a bold red broth, but manageable in terms of heat.

Everything was good, but one bowl isn’t enough to properly assess the restaurant, especially since their menu is one of the largest I have ever seen at any ramen place. On top of 8 different types of ramen and all their variations, “G-men “ also offers plenty of appetizers from mixed nuts to a chicken dip with crackers, raw octopus to pickled squid. They have salad with and without seafood or meat, plenty of sashimi as is, seasoned and in combos. There are rice bowls and poke bowls, and a section just dedicated to deep fried and bbq items.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t travel all the way to Steveston for ramen, and when there I would choose somewhere to lunch that better showcases the town. However, for the locals this serves as the only, and therefore best place for ramen in Steveston. Don’t deny your cravings.

G-MEN
3711 Bayview Street, Richmond BC, V7E 3B6
604-275-4636
gmenatsteveston.com

Ramen Taka, Aberdeen Centre

“Ramen Taka” has opened a second location, and now you can get their Hokkaido style ramen in Richmond’s “Aberdeen Centre”. An opening that has already seen many line up to try their soup noodles, most notably finished off with a scoop of sizzling liquid lard.

Like their original location this new one is happy with a small cluster of tables, a few bar seats, and a family style large share table. The lighting is also the same; giving the room a golden glow from hanging incandescent bulbs.

The only empty wall space is home to their mascot, sketched in black and white. An eagle with out stretched wings looking fierce. Fitting considering, “Taka” does mean “eagle” in Japanese.

The menu is the same from Vancouver to Richmond, although it is worth noting that it has changed several times, since the popular Japanese ramen chain has made the Lower Mainland their home. They are here to offer up their traditional Hokkaido ramen, but are also open to their customer’s feedback. Each table has comment cards and pens, which gives the diner the ability to rank their food and service, as well as leave the restaurant suggestions on how they can improve. “Taka” has taken the latter to heart, and now offers up the ability to customize their ramen for your palette. Like the ability to have less or no lard. And more recently a creamier noodle soup.

Hokkaido style ramen uses a clear broth with plenty of lard, and is traditionally saltier than other versions of ramen. But for the Vancouver appetite they have created a “Vancouver special soup” that gives diners a heartier and ricer broth: paitan. “Paitan” is a creamy white tonkotsu broth made with pork bone. And today would end up trying both this new version and their classic, in order to compare the two.

But first appetizers, and their Hokkaido fried chicken that cannot be missed. An order of the “Zangi” is available in either 4 or 8 pieces. I suggest getting the latter because one taste is not enough and you won’t want to share. Juicy, white meat chicken with pockets of fat, made crunchy in a thick and jagged batter. Each nugget is gently seasoned to allow the natural flavour of the chicken to come through. Dare I say, this might be my new favourite place for fried chicken!

We also had to try the “Kakuni” given how delicious it looked in photo. The menu was right in describing this as “Melt in your mouth braised pork belly”, served in a pool of their tasty “special sauce”. The meat was so tender around the sinew of fat, and so juicy from the sauce it soaked up, that it had a different texture to it. Different than chewy and stringy pork meat; it was almost like liquid, which easily broke down from the weight of your tongue. The sauce was also super tasty, I didn’t want to waste a drop of it, so wished we ordered some rice to absorb it all with.

Next, we moved on to their ramens. Ordering two bowls of the “Dragon’s Dewdrop Shoyu” flavoured with soy sauce. First was the “Paitan”, easily identified by the murky broth. Once again, this creamier version came to be due to the request and preference of their North American clientele. It was definitely creamier as promised, but the fullness of the flavour is missing. Something that you do get in full from their original “Dragon’s Dewdrop Shoyu”, below.

I highly recommend coming for their clear soup noodles, this is what they are known for and you can get a version of the one above from every other ramen shop. But you can only get the “Dragon’s Dewdrop Shoyu” from “Ramen Taka”, and it is worth traveling for. This is a great light broth for first timers. It is simple and clean when it hits the tongue, but then unpacks its flavour the more you take in. Each spoonful leaves a film of oil on your lips, just so you know the fat is there. Here, you don’t need many toppings. The ones included simply add a change in texture; like the perfectly soft boiled gooey egg, the crispy to chewy seaweed sheet, and rubbery bamboo with its distinct bitter note.

The only down side, you can’t take anything you don’t finish home. When we visited, the lids of their to-go bowls didn’t connect. We were told to make it fit, and this photo is the result. We showed the server and he was satisfied with the outcome. I, however, was less then impressed; soup doesn’t travel well already, now you are adding a hole to the equation!?

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I would visit the downtown location first, due to its proximity to my home. Although when in Aberdeen and looking for traditional Japanese style ramen, this is the one to visit. A soup base like no other and sides so tasty. I would come back just for the chicken. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RAMEN TAKA
Aberdeen centre, 2nd floor
2780-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond BC, V6X 4J7
ramentaka.ca

Koika Davie

Tonight I was invited down to the original location of “Koika” to check out their latest ramen concepts. Understanding that the Vancouver ramen scene is pretty saturated and that they need to stay competitive, “Koika” continues to lead the way in ramen with a twist. They have done so in the past with the city’s first big bowl ramen challenge, their super spicy ramen challenge, and the beef rib ramen.

But today we would trying their new curry ramen and a ramen with a basil pesto broth, as well as visit a handful of their most popular bowls.

The “Curry ramen” comes with your choice of either a chicken or pork based broth. Then to it they add shredded pork, onion, carrot, mushroom, and cabbage. You can also choose your level of heat, though mild still had a hint of spice to me. Whereas I was more expecting a sweeter curry, much like Japanese curry. The soup was thick like curry, and the collection of pulled and thinly sliced ingredients offered some interesting texture to munch on.

The “Basil ramen” had a striking green chicken broth base. The basil and spinach paste giving this bowl its neon hue was made in house. It comes with cha shu, parsley, and for $2 more a scoop of Parmesan cheese. Considering it is like Japanese noodle with an Italian pasta sauce, you might as well go the whole nine yards and get it with the salty powered cheese. This was an interesting interpretation and tasty too. But I still prefer the classic ramen pairings below.

Especially the “Triple black garlic ramen” with cha shu, spinach, seasoned egg, bamboo shoot, roasted seaweed, green onion, garlic chips, and their triple black garlic oil. It is served thin noodles, and is also available in a veggie broth with tofu instead of pork. This was packed full of flavour and punch, ideal for those who love a garlicky mouth.

The “Mayu miso ramen” also comes with some triple black garlic oil, along with cha shu, and green onion. The difference is that there are bean sprouts and corn in the mix as well. It is served with regular noodles, and is sweet with the corn, and smokey from the garlic oil.

And if you like it hot you can also get it spicy with a bold red coloured broth.

The “Sapporo miso ramen” was different in its feature of fried ground pork, along with the usual bean sprouts, green onion, and corn. This broth is creamier than the mayu, and a whole lot meatier and saltier with the ground beef. This too is available in a spicier version, which we didn’t try.

“Kimchi ramen” is another fun fusion twist. Shredded pork, kimchi, mushroom, onions cabbage, green onion, and chicken broth. You could smell the sour tang and spicy heat from the broth. A heated bowl with plenty of vegetables to chew through.

The “Chicken tamago ramen” was a lighter ramen option. Thin noodles, garlic chips, bamboo shoots, and green onion, all in a chicken broth with two seasoned eggs on the side. For those who love the flavour of chicken this one is the one to get. And tonight it really stood out amongst all the heavier pork broths that we enjoyed.

And my favourite of the night was the “Kyoka tsukemen”. This is ramen where the noodles and broth come separate, and you dip one into the other. Great for those who want ramen on a hot day or for those who are weary of a soggy noodle. Dipping noodles with shredded pork, green onion, roasted seaweed, bamboo shoot, and a half seasoned egg. Here, the broth is more concentrated, you get more flavour even with a quick dunk. I especially liked how much meat there was and how bold its seasoning was.

We also broke our meal up with some appetizers. Like the “Puri puri ebi”. Four deep fried panko breaded jumbo shrimp, dressed with tar tar sauce, sesame seeds, and parsley. Each prawn was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The sauce was what made you go back for another stick.

The “Takoyaki ball” helped to change the taste with its thick sweet and salty sauce. Deep fried flour ball with a chunk of octopus hiding within. Sticky dough that melted under pressure and a chewy centre that surprised you.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If they keep their unique ramen options coming, they will keep seeing me through their doors. Currently they have 16 bowls and counting, and each one is as different and as unique as those who come in to enjoy them. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KOIKA
1231 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1N4
604-336-2779
ramenkoika.com

Menya Raizo, revisit

I have been to the new reincarnation of “Menya” once before, when they originally opened. And today I was back out of convenience. With the latest snow fall, I was cautious with my driving, so met my friend up at a noodle place closest to a sky train station. So here we were, and here she was able to try a new noodle place. Whereas myself, I got a taste of three completely different dishes than during my first visit, which is enough of a reason to write a revisit post.

For my original review, including more detail on the decor and a feel of the place, check out my original review post below.

Menya Raizo

 

Today we sat by the window, getting a good look at their cute interior. It was almost like a tiny village with each set of tables having their own shingled roof and wood stump stool. We were seated, greeted, and consistently tended too. Our server was a little fuzzy in translation when it came time to ordering and answering our menu focused questions. But he was quick to suggest a beer or any drink, then offer it hot when we opted for water. He also made sure our metal water cups stayed 3/4 full with frequent check ins.

My guest wanted something spicy to warm her up, so got the “Tan tan men”, “spicy minced pork, bok choi, green onion, Japanese leek, half a seasoned soft boiled egg, and chilli pepper thread”. The dish had a richness to it, with a pork bone broth and a heat that grew with the bright red strands of chilli pepper. The first few bites were the best, taken in with large slurps of firm noodle strands. Of note, with each bowl of ramen, it looks like you are getting a lot more than what is actually in the serving. The bowl used is elevated, balancing on a narrow base.

I had the “Menya champon” out of curiosity. I like the following list of ingredients over instant noodles, and in my fried rice; so figured it should be good in pork based ramen broth as well. Sliced pork, cabbage, bean sprouts, carrot, onion, prawn, squid, snow pea, fish cake, and quail egg.

The broth is different from anything I have had, and although both our bowls of noodles today, featured a pork base, they tasted completely different from one another. The bevy of ingredients in my bowl really lent to the overall taste. Complex with how many different flavours are brought together, though at the same time flat, and I grew tired of the broth quick. Luckily the assortment of meat and vegetables in this, still made it an interesting bowl. You got to pick and choose your pieces and combinations. Tender and fatty pieces of pork, small shrimp that you pluck meat from tail, rubbery black wood ear fungus, and a particularly gritty fish cake. Decent if you like variety and various textures, like I do.

And to start we actually had the “Rolled eel omelette”. I have never had such a combination and decided to give it a try, after reading it being described as an “luxurious eel” wrapped in a fluffy and sweet egg omelette. I was surprised by how much I liked this and how great the combination was with the salty eel and its crispy bits.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Same review as before. A quick and easy lunch stop, good food and good value. Just be warned, they don’t take cash, only plastic. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MENYA RAIZO
401 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Y 4A8
604-829-0697

Ramen Gaoh

Whenever I travel I always come back to Vancouver craving Asian food, and lucky for me I have acclimated my partner into enjoying ramen; meaning we got to get a bowl of the good stuff our first meal back.

New to our neighbourhood is “Ramen Gaoh”, brought to you by the same folks running the well celebrated “Ramen Butcher”. In fact one of the servers working today was sporting their branded hoodie with its large pig face logo on the back.

With Japanese bamboo growing up front and a large glowing lantern marking the way, the restaurant stands out with its painted black exterior. To enter, you shimmy past a narrow passage, past the black wooden bars, and the covered patio. I considered a seat on the latter as I liked how cozy it looked, but it is still a little too cold to be dining outdoors, so we wafted in side instead.

The staff greet you in unison as you past the threshold. We were directed to one of the two top tables that ran parallel with the bar. With the high counter top and the stacks of bowls atop it, you can’t make out much of what is happening in the open kitchen.

Their dual sided, laminated menu features ramen prepared with miso blends from across Japan. Shiro miso from Nagano, and Aka miso from Aichi and Miyagi.

My partner got the “Shiro miso” ramen made with white soybean paste. It was described as being more mellow and sweet, for a lighter miso flavour. And compared to my bowl below, it was. It was okay, a flavour of ramen I had never had before. Different, but not my favourite to date. My partner finished his portion, but declared that this salty broth wasn’t to his liking either.

I did prefer the more flavourful “Aka miso” ramen made with red soy bean paste. As promised by the menu, it had a deeper umami flavour, with a richer and saltier miso broth. This was also a meatier broth that paired well with the thick and chewy noodles used. Interesting, but not a flavour profile I could see myself craving for any time soon.

Like all their bowls, this too doesn’t come with an egg, so I ordered one at an additional $1.50. A medium boiled and marinated egg. I just wish such places cut their eggs in half, no one bites into a whole egg like this. Inside was a very runny yolk that pooled out. It had a great creamy texture, but was cooled to a chill at the centre.

You can make your ramen a combo by adding gyozas as a side, but unfortunately only the original pork version, made in house, using their “secret recipe” is available as an add on for $3.

So I passed and paid full price for one of their topped gyozas, choosing the most unique of the four options. This is the “Truffle aioli with Parmesan paste”. Tender and meaty bundles topped generously and made salty. There was no hiding the flavour of truffle. Overall, an interesting twist, but a little too much and too rich as a side to my ramen. The toppings felt unnecessary and I found it overwhelming.

As a precaution, my partner ordered a side of their “Teriyaki spicy crispy deep fried chicken”, in case he didn’t like the ramen. The meat used was fatty and dark, each nugget coated heavily in crunchy fried breading. The teriyaki sauce was the highlight of this dish with its fishy undertone, it paired well with the spicy sauce that was not too spicy.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not my first choice for ramen in the area. Nothing was what I expected, it didn’t taste bad, it just wasn’t a taste that I recognized or look to when craving ramen. This was a good reminder that there are so many different styles of ramen out there; all worth trying. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RAMEN GOAH
4518 E Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2K4
604-299-5407
ramengaoh.com

Ramen Koika, prime rib ramen

I already associate “Koika” with fun and creative bowls of ramen, so it is nice to see they are keeping this imagine up with an all new prime rib ramen! There is no one else in the Asian fusion game adding their own ingredients and toppings to classic bowls of tonkatsu. Here you can get your ramen with a collection of shellfish, some deep fried chicken, or a mixed broth of pork meat and shellfish.

As the newer of the two locations it was still as fresh and as new as I remembered, during my original visit. Their name spelt out in actual lights, a mural dedicated to the master that they learned their Tokyo-Chiba style from. (Whom also got a shout out on their one page laminated menu.) And most eye catching their unique light installation, a collection of wood pieces dangling in mid air.

We were seated by the noodle making booth, although it was left unattended today. They do make all their noodles in house, it’s just a shame that I never visited when they physically are.

The “Prime rib ramen” got its own feature. A separate full page that did well to tempt the on looker. 1 price of AAA prime rib, onion, cabbage, wood ear mushroom, bean sprouts, and triple black garlic oil; all in a tonkotsu soup base. This runs at a premium price of $15.95, but it is worth trying, and when I do I suggest you add the $4.95 to get an extra prime rib. If you are going to do it, do it right, with enough meat to ration between all the slurps of noodles. The tender meat on bone was the flavour maker, it was plenty tasty on its own; but just bobbing in the broth, it’s meaty essence transitioned into the soup well.

As with all their other ramen bowls you can choose the level of heat from non-spicy, mild, or spicy; and you also have a choice whether you like your noodles firm or soft. And for both our ramen dishes we got a lot of noodles. Other restaurants charge you $1 for your ramen refill, more noodles to finish off the soup with, in full. Here, you get all the noodles you would need in the first go.

In comparison my partner got the much lighter “Tonkotsu shio ramen”. Cha-shu, bamboo shoot, roasted seaweed, green onion, spinach, and bean sprouts. It was a clean broth and simple, it relied on its toppings to give it character. Like the sweetness from the side of corn at an extra free.

We also tried some of their appetizers. Like the “Ugly onigiri” sold by the piece. I assumed it was a small round so when I saw the two I had order arrive, I was ashamed. I had ordered two giant rice balls the size of grapefruits, and found myself eating them like an apple in hand. There were the largest rice balls I have ever had. A tuna and mayo rice ball mixed with seaweed and sesame oil. They made for a great filler, but I wished for more seasoning in the rice, so that the bites without the flaky fish centre still had flavour.

The “Coco karaage” is deep fried house battered boneless chicken with kaarage cream or a spicy sauce. We got the non spicy version that ended up being a sweet chicken dish. Nice nuggets of brown meat, juicy and fresh.

They were the perfect pairing to the “Creamy croquette”. You get 3 in an order, each golden brown and dressed in a tangy brown sauce. Corn, onion, mashed potato, and mozzarella cheese. Each ate like a meal of county chicken and potatoes, without actual meat. It had a nice texture, whipped smooth and almost sticks to your teeth.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A fun bowl of ramen, a nice twist on one of Vancouver’s favourite foods. And the prime rib is definitely worth trying out. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RAMEN KOIKA
1479 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C1
604-428-6117
ramenkoika.com

Honjin Ramen

My partner works in New Westminster and has slowly begun to search out new places for dinner. Today he invited me to check out a newer ramen shop by his. This is “Honjin Ramen” in Coquitlam. Located in the plaza adjacent to the Silvercity movie theatre. Here, their little shop boasts “Authentic Japanese noodles” that they make themselves in house.

They have been open since April of this year, despite what their menu might say. Our server, who I guess is also the owner, based on his stature, and out of everyone he was the most keen on engaging with his customers and seeing to their needs. He waved off the bold first line on the menu reading “soft opening”, as it was something to disregard. I guess when you print a menu in colour and laminate it, you plan on using it for a while.

The restaurant was very brightly lit. It felt uniform and sterile, clean of debris and clean with its lines. Although sleek, it wasn’t a comfortable setting to eat slow and linger at. There is no music playing, nothing to cover up the pauses in conversation and the lone cough in the corner. The quite allows you to hear the hum of the fridge, and the kitchen at rest. Today there were three people behind the counter waiting for an order. And two more hovering around the dining area floor, looking for the slightest hint that they are needed by their assigned tables. Although earnest, it didn’t feel very welcoming. More like you are being watched, be cause there is nothing else for them to do. I certainly felt the eyes when I had to take the photos below. And the temperature within the restaurant was just a little too warm. To the point I felt discomfort and even more so when hovering over the bowl of hot soup below.

Each wooden table with matching chair and bench included a collection of sauces, spices, and extra seasonings. So many small jars and squeeze bottles that the intended tray couldn’t house them all. Vinegar, togarashi seasoning, garlic paste, soy sauce, a house made chilli sauce and a store bought version. The only way I know this is because I had to ask. I wished they were labelled instead

My partner had us share two of the dishes he would return and order again, should he like either of them today. The “Tonkatsu” is deep fried pork coated in crispy bread crumbs served with tonkatsu sauce, and a side of shredded cabbage. Served with steamed rice, a side salad with dressing, tangy pickles and miso soup. At $8.95 this was a great deal and a filling meal. With all the small sides and little bites you can have in between your pork cutlet, the meal lasted, it felt wholesome and it covered all flavours and textures. The pork itself had a great coating, and the meat inside wasn’t dry. My partner found it true to the taste he remembered when he first had it in Japan. And I liked it with the milder tonkatsu sauce. I am not really a fan of it in the first place, preferring more of a sweeter dipping sauce; so this was a good compromise.

I was impressed by the heartier miso soup. There were plenty of bits to chew through. Seaweed, regular tofu, the fried variety, and green onion. Like the broth below, this serving too was oily. I didn’t mind it in taste, but didn’t like the residue that adhered to your lips because of it.

The “Shio Ramen” featured a salt based chicken broth with homemade noodles, chashu, corn, marinaded egg, bamboo shoot, green onion, and roasted seaweed. It was super clean, flavourful, but not rich. I liked the variety of elements, how they offered variation in each bite. The sweetness of the corn, fermented qualities of the bamboo, creaminess of the egg; and the fatty, yet super tender pork meat. It was good, but as a whole it didn’t really stand out compared to all the other ramen offerings around. That was until I looked to the garlic paste on the table. With a glob mixed in, it gave my noodles new life and a longer lasting impression. However it also left me with the lingering taste of garlic on my tongue, and therefore I assume breath.

The “owner” took the time to promote and talk up his stamp card program, explaining to us that after the 10th visit or dish ordered and 10 stamps later we would get a plate of gyozas for free, but should we keep collecting to 20 stamps we could earn tonkatsu, or any bowl of ramen at 30 stamps. Stamp cards aren’t new, but the amount expects here is. 10 orders for one side felt pointless. If you can afford and do end up eating here 10 times, the possibility of free gyoza isn’t the reason. 4-6 visits feels more reasonable. With 8-10 for a main. Thought when it still came time to pay, I asked for one anyways. And ironically he looked confused over my mentioning ir 30 minutes later. We left with a card and two stamps.

We came into an empty restaurant, but left one that was full. The once awkward silence was now replaced with kids laughing, tables chatting, and plenty of clanging and sizzling from kitchen.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They aren’t a destination, but instead, a good option for a quick and inexpensive meal in New West. $8.95 and $9.95 are such good prices for the quality of what we got and the portions of it. Most other ramen places just as good, charge you $12-14 for a bowl. The above at under $10 is great for everyday eating. An easy option for people like my partner and myself, who don’t really cook or meal prep. Therefore every dollar matters, and you certainly get your value’s worth here. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HONJIN
228 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam BC, V3K 6V7
604-553-7960

Menya Raizo

“Menya Raizo” is the reincarnation of “Menya”. In the first half of this year, the former ramen shop shut down, to rebrand and reopen under this new conjoined title. A reopening and a change celebrated with a string of white and yellow branded banners and paper lanterns that attracts your attention and signifies a change.

We walked up to it for a weekday lunch with a short line waiting outside. The menu is taped to the window, so those waiting can pick their bowl before hand. This helps to quicken the dining experience, as during this time it serves the community as a quick lunch destination.

I recalled the decor that it was before and liked the upgrades I saw today. Each row of tables was now topped with a bamboo roof, and black and white photos of city scenes hung on the walls as decoration. The space was tight and our options were limited. We were seated at the individual bar, as we had a stroller in tow and needed to tuck it aside. Our bar seat with its roof and overhanging light bulbs, gave us the feeling of being being outdoors in a night market setting. It also gave the meal a certain authenticity, and I really enjoyed it for this reason.

There are menus, jugs of water, and a caddy of napkins and utensils for you to help yourself to at each table. You easily hail one of the 3 servers to order, and your food comes out fast.

We stared with “Ita wasa”, as I was lured in by the bold colours of this Japanese fish cake with wasabi. It was chewy and light, a similar texture than that of hot pot fish balls that I like so much. It was served cold, with a pinch of spicy wasabi to offset it. As it came out first, we ate it like an appetizer, but I would have preferred to enjoy it as a side to my ramen below. A side offering a fresh taste between rich brothy bites.

I ordered the “Umami shoyu ramen”, on its promise of “umami”. “Umami has been described as savoury and is characteristic of broths and cooked meats”. Firm noodles sat in this deliciously light and translucent broth. This is the kind of soup that you order when you are feeling sick, or are in need of some nutritional comfort. It was so rich, yet so clean on the mouth. A beautiful base for the pork belly cha-su, Chicken breast cha su, green onion, thinly sliced Japanese leek, radish sprouts, half seasoned soft boiled egg, and onion to bob around in. The chicken meat was incredibly tender, so soft that it broke under the pressure of my tongue. By comparison the pork was fattier and had more of a chew.

My guest got the richer ramen with the heavier and creamier broth, the “Gyokai tonkotsu shoyu ramen”. This is pork shoulder cha shu, green onion, radish sprouts, bean sprouts, and nori seaweed. According to her this was one of the better servings of ramen she has had in a while.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A quick and easy lunch stop, good food and good value. Just be warned, they don’t take cash, only plastic. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MENYA RAIZO
401 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Y 4A8
604-829-0697

Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba

I love noodles, a bowl of ramen is my go to and the gauge of a strand of udon is my favourite. So learning of a new “brothless ramen” place I was compelled to visit. Walking up and in, you know they are anticipating success as the place has a large waiting area, and your full party must be present before you can be seated policy. We came early enough to avoid a wait on one of the stools, gathered in a cluster by the door. With green plants and cushioned benches, this made for a fairly comfortable waiting room. But my guest arriving a mere 5 minutes before myself was treated to the third degree. They were hesitant on giving her a table, asking where I was and how long it would take me to get there to join her.

The restaurant was a large, open space; plenty of seating for a quick turn over. They could have easily fit another row of tables into the dining area, or squeezed in more seats between the ones that already existed, however, I appreciated the spaciousness and the privacy you got with this layout. Two toned walls in white and blue, cushioned benches that zagged around the space, well lit and fresh with greens.

The menu was easy to navigate with high quality coloured photos easing your decision making. Naturally I had to try their specialty, “Japanese style mixed soba” prepared in house with multigrain flour. In this process they utilize Japanese technology to soften the water, thus creating their perfect noodle.

Here, your choice is made based on what toppings you want, what ingredients do you want to combine together for your perfect bowl. There was one with cheese, another that featured mentaiko, one with a curry sauce, and even one for the vegans. I went for the one that almost had it all, the chef’s special: “Zenbu mazesoba” and made it a combo. The deal has you paying the full price of your chosen bowl, and then choosing one of six options as an add on for less. Save $2.61 for takoyaki, gyozas, or chicken teriyaki, or $1 on a donburi rice bowl. I went the sweet route saving $1.50 on dessert. More on that below.

The “Zenbu mazesoba” has slow braised pork chashu, spicy minced pork, raw egg yolk, seaweed, soft boiled egg, bamboo shoots, seaweed flakes, chives, green onion, minced garlic, and grilled Saba fish; all over their multi grain noodles made in house. It was a beautifully crafted bowl.

A little card placed on every caddy, on every table taught you how to eat the meal before you. You mix the raw egg yolk in, this creates a thick gummy texture, giving the noodles an extra chew, and the ingredients some sauciness. Altogether it almost felt like a rich and creamy pasta sauce coming together with Japanese flavours and the texture of a fulsome ramen bowl. It was so thick and heavy, that I found the salty chashu overkill. I wanted less grease and more freshness from the bowl, a desire that was self wrought, seeing as I don’t like greens and refused to utilize the onions and leeks for that purpose. Instead, I picked out the chopped up green onion and leek leaves, and reached for the bottle of vinegar as the sign recommend. The vinegar was suggested as an add on. I felt it helped to break the larger serving apart, it changed the taste, giving you some freshness like a pickle would. A nice change that allowed me the finish the portion with zeal.

In contrast, the “Fuji cheese cup cake” was a light and mild dessert, I found it the ideal palate refresher with bonus points for presentation. Served in a branded cup with a plastic shovel as a spoon. It looked like ice cream, and even scooped like a soften facsimile of it. But it tasted like whipped smooth cheese cake topping, over an Oreo crust. The latter we didn’t know about, until our shovels hit the hard bottom. We were both delighted by the change in texture and taste. It would have also been nice to have some topping options included, although I guess this would change the intended nature of the dessert.

In truth I tried to add on one of their “Hokkaido creme cones” to my dessert order as well. It is an organic milk soft serve ice cream made by their Japanese nissei machine. Although the ice cream itself is readily available, their coveted wafer cone isn’t. They only make 30 of them, fresh on the a day. So by today’s dinner at 6pm, they had already ran out, despite my placing my request in first thing.

My guest tried their ramen to her disappointment. I did warn her given it isn’t their specialty, but she wanted to try it for the sake of trying. She went for their “Tonkotsu ramen” and was disappointed that she couldn’t customize her serving to the point of her preference. Everything was preset. The pork broth was just the one, and there was no way to dilute it or make it less rich; similarly there was no thickness of noodle to choose from. The slow braised pork chashu came in just one cut, there was no lean version, each slice included some gristle and fat. At least she was able to have her request for the green onion and black fungus removed, granted. At the end she was left with the pork meat she trimmed the fat from, and the soft boiled egg she removed the yolk from. The result, a bowl that didn’t look all that appetizing, especially with the white broth and the pools of oil over it. My guest proceed to skim the oil before she ate, ironically as she original wanted a more thin and less fatty version of this entire serving. The broth was nice, but different. A flavour I remembered, but couln’t put my finger on. In fact, I found myself returning to it sip after sip, missing the flavour I quickly forgot. The noodles were at least well cooked with a nice chewy texture. The meat was leaner, it doesn’t feel fatty on the lips, but instead has a firm gelatin-like texture.

I felt so bad at my guest’s dissatisfaction, that I felt compelled to pay for her share, doggy bagging her thinner noodles for lunch the next day. I ended up mixing them into my bowl, with the noodles that was three times its thickness. When you finish your broth-less noodles and are still left with some sauce and meat mix, you are able to order a complimentary bowl of rice. This is to ensure you exiting full, and that you aren’t leaving anything in your bowl. Together, the ingredient mix makes for a saucy rice dish, a minced meat donburi. As a whole, I really appreciated the longevity of my meal above, how many times it evolved and how I was able to get more than just my original serving.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The setting is clean and comfortable, the food is fresh and tasty, and everything came out almost as soon as we ordered it. I would definitely be back craving a bowl, as there is nothing else like in Vancouver thus far. Plus I want to return to try for their house made ice cream cone again. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KOKORO
51 Seymour Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 3H6
604-559-8872
menyakokoro.com

Koyuki Sapporo Ramen

Tonight we were here looking for hot soup on a cold night, and ramen always hits the spot for me. Out of convenience and not wanting to re-park, having gotten a good spot on Robson Street, we found ourselves half a block away.

We both couldn’t remember what was here before, and if this was a new ramen shoppe, and if so, how new. But the promise of happy hour was one that lured us in close and the full house was what prompted us through the threshold. The little shop was deep with a lot more seating that you’d think. Their kitchen is visible from the front, up at the counter. It is here they make their own noodles and broths.

The restaurant utilizes chalk boards above the side of the bar to walk you through what makes them stand out amongst all the ramen places available to Vancouverites. Chalk illustrations and explanations. Like how they use three types of miso to flavour their soups: red, white, and “mix”. And how their’s is authentic miso ramen from Sapporo city, which is also referred to as “ramen kingdom”. The only other decorative piece to their decor were strips of wood with Japanese characters written on each. As, I am not literate in kanji I can’t tell you what each means.

Most interesting was their music choice. They had on loop the same best of Kayne mixtape. The rated “M” for mature version with swears rapped in full. I appreciated this dearly, but everyone else was talking too loud to take note.

My guest got the “Butter and corn miso ramen”, as the menu recommended. It was the first option on the menu and it got its own full page with the words “No.1 recommended” highlighted. The butter was a square piece cut off and allowed to naturally melt in the hot broth. Stirring it in makes the broth a lot more creamier. A richness of homemade miso and a creamy soup made from chicken and pork bones with vegetables. Flavoured with butter and sweet corn, and topped with bamboo shoots, green onion, a slice of fish cake, two pieces of tender pork char su, and a perfectly soft boiled whole egg. This is the flavour I crave for when I think of and want ramen. But instead, I opted for the most unique of all the ramen options: one with a white broth.

I was hesitant to order, but our server was confident enough for the both of us and it turns out, my guest really loved this wild card. The menu described this as “Vancouver’s first milky chicken ramen”. Chicken cha-shu, green onions, bamboo shoots, black pepper, and whipped cream. I ordered an egg when the server mentioned it, very happy to have the add-on. Although I don’t know why it wouldn’t be part of the bowl normally.

The white broth looked like it was be watered down and bland, but it was the exact opposite. A rich soup with a flavour that is true to the essence of chicken. The cream in the soup makes it more filling, and the various ingredients gave you a nice mix of textures to sink your teeth into. The chicken is lean, the ground pepper is a highlight, and the noodles are very fresh.  For any of their ramens you can choose your gauge of noodle between thick or thin, and also how long to boil them. A cook to the point where the strands are still hard, regular, or soft. At the end, we each preferred the other’s bowl.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Good stuff. Would definitely come back for a quick and tasty, homestyle, comforting bowl of ramen. No complaints. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KOYUKI
795 Jervis Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 2B1
604-695-9177
Koyuki Sapporo Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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