Miki Japanese Ramen – Burnaby, BC

Miki Japanese Ramen
5212 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 430-8999

My discovery of more and more places featuring ramen on their menu, or that alone as their offering to hungry customers, reminds me of how strong an influence that both an internationally-minded local populace and the success of a market leader in that genre (e.g. Kintaro) can have on drawing in more and more contenders (and some would say pretenders).  While the Robson+Denman area of downtown Vancouver is gradually become its own ramen gekisenku (literally, you could translate this to something like “competitive ramen battle zone”), with sightings and rumors of Ramen Santouka setting up shop apparently near Guu with Garlic, and Benkei Ramen apparently set to open a second location on Robson. Other places are striking out on their own in other parts of the city or surrounding areas. Case in point, this new ramen joint discovered while on a drive through Kingsway, which is calling itself Miki Japanese Ramen.

Stepping inside during a weekday lunch hour, I was greeted by an oddly pronounced blast of the Japanese greeting for “welcome” by a young female server.  There was a pair of older ladies already eating and having a deep conversation, but otherwise the place was empty.  After perusing the menu booklet that was brought to my table, I settled on trying the Negi Shio Ramen, figuring it would give me the best insight into their basic broth.  What came out was a very “cloudy” and oil-heavy soup.  It felt like a large amount of canola oil or something had been poorly integrated into a very dense chicken broth.  It simply tasted impure or artificially-created, that is the best way that I can describe it.  The topping of finely sliced scallions were sweet but did little to drive my attention away from the soup.

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Ramen Ezogiku – Honolulu, HI

Ramen Ezogiku
2420 Koa Avenue
Honolulu, HI
Tel: (808) 922-2473‎

I admit, curiosity got to me when I saw the distinctive logo hanging from the banner outside this front entrance.  For our readers familiar with Vancouver, yes, this is the same chain that operates the two outlets in the Canadian city, both on Robson Street, going by the name of  Ezogiku Noodle Cafe.

Some more background…  The Tokyo honten (main branch) of Ezogiku is a tiny ten-person counter joint, located in the college-saturated station area of Takadanobaba, and competes with many ramen-ya and inexpensive eateries for the tight student wallet.  Offering a Sapporo-style miso ramen, Ezogiku has been around for over thirty-years and claims to be one of the first to bring true Sapporo miso ramen to the Kanto region.  Forgive me, but my first and only bowl there was way back in 1997, but I can faintly recall that it was pretty decent, a mid-thickness crinkly noodle and a miso soup that was on the heavier side on the fat meter.

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Kenzo Japanese Noodle House – Burnaby, BC

Kenzo Japanese Noodle House
6907 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 522 9969

Kenzo Japanese Noodle House on Urbanspoon

September 2010 re-visit post here
<a href="December 2009 re-visit post here

Original post below:

Located in a very visible commercial building along Kingsway at the intersection with Griffiths Avenue, not far from the Middlegate Shopping Centre, Kenzo Japanese Noodle House is a pretty well known spot for those living in the area.  I am sure the commuters who utilize Kingsway daily are also very familiar with this place due the lack of obstruction from the road right into the business’s front window.

Initial impressions gained from scanning the photographed items above the cashier station/beverage case/bar led me to think that the proprieters were Korean, given the Hangul descriptors I saw for the food images (along with the English text).  As a ‘noodle house’ I was surprised to see a few non-noodle dishes displayed there, as well as in the menu booklet that I was given as I saw down.

The interior was quite clean, with the sunlight coming into the windows making for a very bright scene, even thought it was becoming close to sundown.  Around me were other tables filled with diners, from couples (young and old), a mother with her children, and two guys who were friends and out for a meal together.  The booth that I sat in had a light colored wood counter, but I thought the seats were a bit close to the table’s edge so it made for some effort in squeezing in, or is that just that my growing girth is the problem here…?

With the intent of using this visit to sample their ramen offerings, I quickly scanned the choices and asked for the SHIO RAMEN.  There were other variants such as the shoyu (soy sauce), miso and some others that had spicy elements in the broth.

Toppings were a few thin slices of pork, bamboo shoots, green onions and a full boiled egg.  The noodles were a variety I have seen in the cases of restaurant supply stores, and have bought myself in the past.  The broth was light, a chicken-stock base and had not been topped off with any oil.  How would I describe the dish overall?   Very ‘plain Jane’, it reminded me of the kind of ramen that you find in Tokyo at a small ‘mom & pop’ kind of neighborhood place, your school cafeteria, etc.  Frankly, I am able to make a better home version using store bought dried noodles (brand: Myojo Chukazanmai), adding some other ingredients to boost the soup and making a greater effort with the toppings.

For what it is, a simple dish of ramen, I suppose its not completely inedible, but if you live on the eastside and are willing to make the drive further westward to places like Menya or the popular Vancouver ramen-ya around Robson & Denman, you can get a more authentic and flavorful bowl.

Kenzo Japanese Noodle House on Urbanspoon