“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.
401 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Y 4A8