Shoryumen Noodle House
7100 Elmbridge Way
It has been a while since I was last in this area of Richmond. In fact, my main purpose of driving out there was for other reasons and I just happened to come across this hijacked car park that is now devoted to three separate food trailers and is chain-link fenced off in its own little private prison yard. I’m curious to see if there is any further expansion or perhaps a more properly cordoned off area, perhaps with some increased commercial sponsorship to make this more than just a stand-and-eat attraction. If anyone can do it, its those astute, savvy, well-monied Chinese business people who have made Richmond a well known foodie destination.
Of the trio of stands currently occupying this space, the one serving up the most familiar (to most) food is perhaps Shoryumen. Quick and easy Japanese soup noodles. With all of the competition in the Vancouver area for ramen being prepared in more proper environments, I had my serious doubts that anything remotely adequate could be made out of the back of a trailer.
That’s not to say that it can’t be done. For instance, one of the most memorable outdoor ramen experiences I’ve ever had was in Kyushu, Japan many years ago at this place called Kurume Ramen. Its still operating as an outdoor shack, in a parking lot next to a major freeway and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Kurume is widely recognized as the originator of the modern day tonkotsu ramen when it opened in 1937. And now in the third generation of operation, it continues to shine as a mecca for ramen fans. As simple as it sounds, there is obviously a trick to making great food out of very restrictive and sometimes limited facilities.
So with this in mind, I took the very safe route and ordered a bare bones shio ramen from their somewhat convoluted menu filled with so many options and combination choices, it would make a math wizard salivate at the numerical possibilities. Coming in from the comparative darkness of outside and faced with the shiny and highly reflective lights off the plywood board hammered to the back wall, its a touch hard on the eyes. And when your pupils adjust, you begin to realize how unwelcoming the space (and counter) is as a place to stand at and eat a bowl of ramen.
The odd silence and look I got from the young man inside further made me debate whether I should just step out. It seemed he and the Japanese speaking woman were conversing to some degree (he obviously knew some Japanese words) as I asked a few questions about their setup and how this convoluted menu worked. Frankly, after the explanation I got, I wish they would just offer some standard choices and run with it. This ain’t Baskin Robbins after all.
Here’s what I got. Some bean sprouts. Some scallions. A slice of nori. And some cabbage. Served in a pretty wimpy broth and in a sytrofoam container. Noodles were okay, not great. A touch on the underdone side.
Let’s just say that I’m willing to bet everything that I own, that Shoryumen won’t around as long as Kurume.