By Kristi Alexandra
When the weather cools and our palate warms up, sending Metro Vancouverites on the search for soups, stews and steaming bowls of noodles. Welcome to ramen season!
Traditionally, ramen is a Japanese noodle dish served up in a meat or fish-based broth, flavoured by shoyu or miso, and topped with accoutrements such as sliced meat, eggs, dried seaweed and more. There’s no one-way to do ramen, as evidenced by the ramen variations that represent different regions of Japan—from the mild-tasting, cloudy ramen of Kagoshima to the miso-style ramen of Sapporo. So, perhaps there’s really no tradition at all.
In fact, a great ramen experience is all about choice and customization. One can choose to have their noodles thick or thin, chewy or soft; their broth with a pork-bone base (tonkotsu), or with fish or miso; then topped off with dressings to their heart’s content. We’ve rounded up a few places in Metro Vancouver that you’ll be able to slurp up a rockin’ bowl of ramen.
4679 Kingsway, Burnaby
Burnaby’s Yaguchiya Ramen restaurant is one of three iekei ramen spots by the franchise. The other two are—you guessed it—in Japan. According to the restaurant, iekei is a type of ramen originating from Yokohama, and is the “perfect balance of the popular Tonkotsu style from Kyushu in the West, and Shoyu style from Tokyo in the East.” The unpretentious eatery boasts big flavours, doling out bowls of Shoyu Ramen (served with spinach, dried seaweed, sliced pork belly, and green onions) and featuring its house bowl, the Yaguchiya special ramen (a boiled egg, spinach, leeks, seaweed and more). The noodle spot offers up grated garlic, grated ginger, vinegar and chili bean paste to add to your broth, creating the perfectly customizable ramen.
Yuu Japanese Tapas
#1118 – 3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond
If you’re looking for innovation with your ramen, look no further. Yuu Japanese Tapas is the home of the beer ramen: a bonito-flake broth served cold and in a beer glass, topped off with an egg-white and gelatin foam. The Richmond tapas spot doesn’t just do it for the novelty, though: Yuu serves up more than 20 other ramen bowls, including the spicy “hell fire” ramen and a new rich black pepper garlic broth topped with grilled beef.
The Ramen Butcher
233 East Georgia St., Vancouver
Ambiance is key at this trendy Chinatown eatery. The Ramen Butcher doles out popular tonkotsu ramen flavours directly from Japan, but with a twist. From the orange miso ramen (a pork broth with rich miso marinated ground pork) to the black garlic ramen (another tonkotsu broth with roasted garlic oil) to the straight up vegetarian, there’s a ramen here for experienced noodle slurpers and newbies alike. Not sure what you like? Try a “ramen flight” during happy hour, where you can snag a pair of half-portions in any given flavour (red, black, green and orange) for $10.
120 – 88 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster
No bells or whistles are needed at this soup spot. Hachi Ramen is located just underneath New Westminster SkyTrain Station and is the perfect place to sit down (and slurp down) with a simple, traditional bowl of noodles. They serve up the staples: shoyu, tonkotsu, and even a vegan ramen. Sides such as gyozas and chicken karaage round out the humble menu, making this the perfect pit-stop for Japanese comfort food.
15925 Fraser Hwy #103, Surrey
Get full at Full Ramen. If you’re sitting south of the Fraser but still have a craving for ramen, you’ll find all you need at this Fraser Highway ramenerie. The spot has been pegged as “small and cozy,” and its menu could be charged with the same. No surprises here: this spot serves up a couple variations of tonkotsu-style ramen, with sides such as gyoza to fill the tummy.
Kamamarui Ramen & Don
6514 Royal Oak Ave, Burnaby
A little fusion can be found at this modern-style eatery in South Burnaby. Kamamarui is known for their Korean-style ramen, along with their “bombs” which are rice balls seasoned with seaweed and teriyaki sauce, not unlike risotto balls. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out the spot’s basil ramen, and if you’re looking for a classic fix, the Tonkotsu ramen and bomb combo ($10.50) will keep you satiated.
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