740 Denman Street
Total visits over the years to this west end ramen-ya is about five for me personally. I hadn’t taken the time to properly put up a post yet since foodosophy started, but recently I had the opportunity to meet with a visiting out-of-town friend and he suggested that we go there for some ramen, so I was happy to oblige one more time. With the sister flagship business of Kintaro closed for the day (though peaking into the windows there, the staff was busy prepping soup stock and I could see bundles of noodles laid out on plates on the main counter), there was no need to juggle our choice. I am well aware both have their fans and detractors, and to each his/her own. For yours truly, after double dipping in both outlets of Daiji Mastubara’s ramen empire over the years, I’ve come to prefer the newer sister for its lighter broths and flavor combinations.
Much has been said already about the more refined and visually appealing setup in this location compared to the one just down the street. In an image conscious city like Vancouver, I find it somewhat fitting that the usually dour and bare bones design of a noodle shop has been upgraded at Motomachi Shokudo. On a first time visit, the differences are really noticeable, despite it being a relatively small dining area, with a few tables (including a communal one) and a bar counter to eat at. Clientele wise, I see more females and people apparently on dates here than one would normally associate with a ramen-ya. Stretching this impression to Japan, where its almost unfathomable to see a single woman eating by herself in such a place due to societal and cultural taboos, its even all the more “odd” to see here.
A classic pairing, some gyoza and ramen is often my staple order. It ended up being a lot more food than I can stomach these days, and having another stop after this didn’t help my comfort level later that same evening. 🙂 I’m a bit of a stickler on timing, as I like to have both of these dishes arrive at my table in unison. However on this visit, that was not the case as the gyoza came much quicker and while I was eating them slowly and engaged in a conversation with my dining partner, I had cleaned the plate before my bowl arrived. The filling was not quite as dense as I had remembered, and they were long and skinny in form. Again with gyoza, you can get differences across the board so there is no set baseline for these, so interpret this as just an observation. A decent sear on the bottom side as seen above, with seasoning of the meat inside on the mild side. The dipping sauce though with some sharpness from the vinegar contributed the refreshing element to an otherwise oily item to eat.
My ramen was of course once again my ubiquitous shio-base, with some added chashu slices. A nice char on these which caught my eye right away. The smokiness it imparts is important for me, as I feel it adds another dimension to the soup and evolves as they sit and immerse themselves in the warm liquid. As such, it will become slightly more muddled and oily than the straight up shio soup you can get here, so be warned. The noodles, a flatter type, were nicely cooked – nothing worse than over-limp noodles. Fitting of the overall aesthetic, the bowl presents itself in a beautiful manner as well with the accompanying toppings comprising a wide range of colors. Motomachi Shokudo probably remains my number two favorite ramen-ya in Vancouver these days. It was nice to know the consistency was still here on this overcast summer evening.