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.
1479 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C1