Roppongi GM Building, 2F
4-11-11 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Tel: +81 3 3796 7281
Ask any visitor as they head to Japan in search of ramen, and they will likely say, if they’ve done any reasonable about of research, that Ichiran and Ippudo are the two names that pop up most frequently in English-language sources.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
190 University Ave
In a recent discussion with the Foodosopher, we touched on the topic of this website, our former haunt where we used to regularly pen our thoughts on our latest eating adventures and released them to the oblivion of the internet. Was anyone still reading it? A good question. The WordPress stats seem to indicate there is still a stream of traffic coming mainly from search engines, much to my surprise. So let’s see what happens with this post, a testing of the waters so to speak…
Another of the local Vancouver area bloggers first brought Kawawa Ramen in Metropolis at Metrotown to my attention. I can recall the post about the place next door (under the same Kawawa umbrella) had several hilarious points that are common to his style of writing and its remained one of his classic reviews filled with disappointment about his meal. So much so that whenever he encounters a pathetic food experience, Kawawa becomes a direct reference point in how bad it really is. All this didn’t phase me however from eventually checking it out – perhaps mainly just to join in the hilarity – and check out some of their offerings. So here goes…
The basic ramen. Added the hard boiled egg. Broth was on the thicker side but rather flat in terms of flavor. Not extremely salty, but just completely uninteresting without any depth. I’m not sure of the exact composition of their base broth, but it can’t be something that is getting much love and attention, and a careful building of layers over extended periods of cooking time. The noodles while drowned in the liquid were somewhat clumped together in an awkward mess, making drawing some out to eat slightly difficult. Chalky in taste too and overdone with no bite left in them. If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m not a huge fan.
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.
3803 Calgary Trail NW
Thought it was open now didn’t you?
Well, as of 10pm MST last evening, this is what the front door looked like.
Still covered up with ‘opening soon’ paper noting just the information of a local contractor doing the work inside apparently, I’m not exactly sure when the doors will open to customers as it was difficult to see through the small bit of uncovered space at the entrance in the freezing Edmonton night I might add. With some flurries coming down, this was a quick drive by and shoot, as the trigger finger on the shutter felt like it might just fall off from the cold.
770 Bute Street
“If you build it, they will come”. Its as if the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson from the 1989 classic film Field of Dreams is whispering all the way across the Pacific Ocean into the ears of the leadership responsible for steering the business growth of established Japanese ramen chains. First of the known bigger players, Santouka, ventured forth and established a Canadian beachhead in the burgeoning ramen battle zone situated in the west end of Robson Street. It’s probably my favorite in town these days, but I’m I would be curious to hear what the likes of the man behind the original true ramen-ya in Vancouver, Matsubara-san of Kintaro fame, would have to say about the growing market and resulting competition for the dollars of Vancouver “rameniacs”. Hard to believe its been eleven years since this all began in our fair west coast city.
Delving into the history of Sanpachi is an interesting read. Starting in that ramen hotbed of Sapporo back in 1987, its stretched to now approximately 70 outlets throughout Japan and as well as overseas (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan). Progressive it seems in their business model as well, by offering “gift packs” of its popular miso and shoyu variants through an online store. The sole founder (and current CEO) is fiercely proud of the original and unique taste of their ramen, and has expanded this love of ramen and keen dedication into a motto that serves to remind their entire network of stores and staff of their purpose. Loosely translated, I would say in English this would be “Warmly Satisfied in Both your Stomach and Heart”. Yeah, that didn’t come out well, but I think you get the point.
Q Go Ramen
1443 West Broadway
This long weekend has been a poor one for me in terms of “cheating” with bad eating habits. Friday night was an extended dinner at an izakaya (albeit, I held back on the booze), which was followed up by a lunchtime of ramen – not exactly the most healthiest back-to-back eating to do. In actuality, this meal was a backup to another one that was sought out initially – which we’ll get to eventually I think – but the rain check turned out to be a nearby replacement. To expand, it was decent, just not outstanding. I’ll explain in more detail below.
Q Go Ramen in the Fairview neighborhood is just a short walk from the busy Granville x West Broadway intersection, and is a recent opening that I’d driven by and wanted to check out firsthand. The extreme popularity of Japanese ramen and the growth this genre has experienced in the greater Vancouver area is clearly noticeable, though I’m beginning to worry about some saturation in some areas and a lowering of the bar so to speak in terms of the quality of the offerings. Early thoughts discovered on the local Japanese language boards concerning this place were not strong (conversely, the English forums out there are overwhelmingly positive), so I entered with some subdued expectations and it turns out, matched what I was anticipating.