04 Apr 6 Most Authentic Ramen Joints to Check Out in Vancouver
Making ramen may not be that hard, but making it good certainly is. Perhaps because it contains so many elements, it’s almost an art form. The broth, the noodles, the protein, the egg…they all have to work in perfect harmony. When on point, it can be a foodgasm; when it’s not, a bowl of ramen can be like a bad one night stand. There is no shortage of ramen spots in Vancouver, but you need to separate the orgasmic from the duds.
Hokkaido Ramen began in the late 80’s with a small shop in Hokkaido, Japan, featuring exactly one menu item: Shio Ramen. It has since grown to include restaurants in 10 different countries, including Hong Kong, the U.S., and thankfully, Canada. With two locations – Robson and W. Broadway, Santouka has long been considered one of Van City’s premier spots. From the pork bone broth to the handmade donburi noodles, to the perfect seasoning, Santouka’s is sublime. Be sure to try their original Shio Ramen, topped with their famous red pickled plum.
The underlying mission statement at JINYA is simple: Real Japanese ramen isn’t about the noodles; it’s about the broth. And at JINYA, they take their broth very seriously, cooking and simmering their perfect combination of pork, chicken or vegetables, dashi, kombu, bonito, and other secret ingredients for more than ten hours. Now that is love. But don’t worry, their noodles get lots of love too, as they are aged for three days before cooking. With that much care and love, you know you are in good hands with JINYA. If you are a garlic lover (or vampire hater), check out the Cha Cha Cha Ramen, with pork & fish broth, pork chashu, seasoned egg, onion, chilli powder, garlic and extra thick noodles.
Kintaro is one of the many hidden, hole-in-the-wall gems in Vancouver’s packed West End that you feel lucky to stumble upon. Kintaro is actually one of Vancouver’s original ramen joints, so it has a pretty loyal following and pretty consistent lineups. One of the cool things about Kintaro is the ability to customize both the density of your broth and the fat content of your meat. Nothing too crazy or fancy here, just consistently authentic, which sometimes is all you need.
Don’t let the name fool ya…there is no actual butchering taking place here, but the emphasis at this Chinatown hotspot is definitely on the meat, specifically the pork. The Ramen Butcher specializes in Tonkotsu, a traditional ramen that originated in Fukuoka, on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Tonkotsu broth uses pork bones, takes up to eight hours to prepare, and is topped with pork belly. That’s right: ramen + pork belly. Need we say more?
Another tiny West End favourite, Motomachi Shokudo has been serving authentic ramen for 11 years. It was founded in 2007 by Daiji M., considered one of the pioneers of Vancouver ramen, so you know it’s gotta be good. While many traditional shops use a pork-based broth, Motomachi’s unique broth is made with chicken, vegetables, and a hint of seafood, making it clearer in texture but still packed with flavour. And each bowl of is topped with freshly barbequed pork or chicken. Another unique offering at Motomachi is their Bamboo Charcoal Dark Miso ramen, perfect for sensitive tummies and healthy eaters alike.
The Ramenman, with it’s two Vancouver locations (Yaletown & the West End), might be best described as a hipster joint. From its funky decor to its funky approach to traditional ramen, The Ramenman redefines what a ramen shop can be in a city littered with them. Their signature dish at exemplifies their new school approach to old-school ramen: chicken broth with truffle oil, garlic, white wine, and clams. You read that right: clams. And, yes, it works. Also worth trying is the Stew Ramen, where the chicken bones used to make the broth are ground up and added to create a thicker, stew-like broth. Think of it as next level ramen.
From the totally authentic to the totally unique, these are 6 of the most killer ramen joints in Vancity. No disappointment, no lameness, no second-rate bowls of noodle soup here. If you’re maybe feeling something a bit different check out the top Asian eateries in Vancouver.