By Kristi Alexandra
While most noodle lovers equate ramen to a warm bowl of comfort, Yuu Japanese Tapas presents its noodles in a way more familiar to college kids—cold, foamy and in a beer glass. Teetotalers need not worry, though. There’s not a drop of actual beer (or any alcohol at all) here.
The Richmond eatery—which boasts a full menu of tapas such as takoyaki and deep fried tentacles in sriracha mayo along with housemade drinks like the “shot slush”—is more concerned with innovation than authenticity.
Owner Julia Kubotani along with masterchef (and her uncle) Sam Chan blend fusion tastes and a warm environment for an experience that has adventure-seekers and ramen-lovers alike coming in for the novelty, and staying for the tastebud-tantalizing fare.
“For me, personally, I like to eat and I love variety,” says Kubotani, who first opened Yuu in 2010. “I don’t like to eat the same food over and over again, that’s why I created beer ramen.”
The adventurous dish in question is a cold bonito-flake broth served with thin ramen noodles in a beer glass, and topped off with an egg-white and gelatin foam. You can order the meal with a side of vegetable tempura or chicken karaage for $14.95.
Kubotani’s philosophy on eating is to enjoy to a well-rounded experience.
“Food has to be good, but it has to be fun, too,” she tells WestCoastFood. “As you can see from our menu, we have some conventional ramens as well as new creations. I don’t know if you can find that in other places. We were inspired by putting different elements together.”
The elements Kubotani and Chan blended this summer were an ice-cold beer (inspired by Vancouver’s record hot summer) and the ever-reliable comfort food, ramen. The secret sauce? A killer broth, made fresh daily by masterchef Chan.
“The key of ramen comes from the broth,” Kubotani reveals, “the bonito broth is way more simple but we do it every day. It’s made with lots of bones and meat and vegetables. I think beer ramen is just a way of bringing people over to see it and talk about it. Once they come in and look at the menu, they’re like ‘oh, i want this and this, too.’”
Along with Chan, her aim was to give her clientele a taste of different regions of Japan, and to show off their family’s innovative culinary spirit. Since 2010, the restaurant has expanded to include more seating, suitable to host large parties. Sticking to the script and keeping a “traditional” menu? That just doesn’t satisfy this restaurateur’s hunger.
“I like to see people enjoy and sharing and being together,” Kubotani says.
Well, cheers to that!