My Secret Ramen: Twice on Sundays Ramen Pop-Up

I first heard about the Twice on Sundays ramen pop-up through Vancouver is Awesome via a drinking buddy. Then I heard about it again through another beer geek and then I thought I gotta check it out!

The way it works is you make a reservation by email (check their website) for either the 5:30pm or 7:30pm seating on Sunday nights. They reply back with a confirmation and the location. It’s somewhere in Chinatown 😉 Consider this a private dining event, so all don’t-be-a-dick rules apply here (eg. don’t show anyone’s face in your photos). The two guys behind this are working industry people who are doing this on their day off for the love of food!

Twice on Sundays used to be held every other Sunday, but response has been bigger than anticipated so now they do every Sunday for the forseeable future. The food and location might change over time. For this particular visit, the pickles, the buns used in the sliders and some of the pork in the ramen looked tweaked since the Vancouver is Awesome article came out.

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The cute sign lets you know you’re in the right place.

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Porky mise en place.

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Quail eggs for the pork sliders.

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Herb-infused water. It came in handy cuz it was super-hot that day. Thankfully they have AC in this particular space — which, unfortunately, automatically switches off at 7:00pm, so things might get a little sweaty for the later seating. 😉

Not sure exactly what kind of herbs went into the water, but it reminded me (in concept only) of the lemongrass water at Longtail Kitchen. Infusing herbs is a great idea to make water more refreshing and less boring!

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I brought an easy-drinking summertime beer: Red Racer India Session Ale (ISA). Only 4% but has enough aroma and flavour to keep things interesting. I like the lychee/guava/tropical fruit hop aroma in this one. Body is light and won’t knock you out or weigh you down.

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First course: pickles. Swiss chard on the bottom, kombu, daikon(?), radishes, black sesame seeds and a bit of bird’s eye chili on top. You could nibble on it or pick it up like a taco. Great start, perfectly suited to the weather. I loved the kick of the bird’s eye chili. Went great with the ISA.

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Second course: braised pork slider with quail egg and similar pickle mixture as the first course.

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I think this shot says it all, yes?

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This was a great bite of food. All the elements were spot-on and worked together well. Pork was tender but still had meaty texture and a bit of resistance. Well-seasoned. I think they used a softer bun than the previous pretzel bun, which I think was a good move. Although a pretzel bun with pork and mustard would be good, but moving away from the Asian theme… 😛

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I broke out Brooklyn Brewing Sorachi Ace saison for the third and final course. This beer is a classic. A solid saison base, hyped up with extra lemony flavours from the use of Sorachi Ace hops. Sorachi Ace hops were originally developed in Japan but were never used in any commercial beers (afaik) until Brooklyn Brewing brewmaster Garrett Oliver rescued these hops and started using them in this beer. Nowadays, Sorachi Ace is one of those great specialty hops that I couldn’t imagine living without. Brassneck sometimes uses them in their rotating-hop beers like Free Radical.

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Third course: Shoyu Ramen with soft-boiled egg, green onions, pork belly, soybean sprouts, pork shoulder (?) and greens.

I’m not gonna mince words here. I think the Twice on Sunday guys can take it 😉 and I’m here to give constructive feedback. The broth was the weakest part of the bowl. The flavour was good and balanced but needed a bit more intensity to make it really delicious.

Regarding the bean sprouts, I prefer the more crisp and delicate mung bean sprouts over the chunkier/nuttier soybean sprouts. Growing up, I disliked that hard “head” part of soybean sprouts :(. YMMV.

The noodles were that standard pre-packaged, refrigerated ramen noodles that are actually pretty good. They use similar noodles at Guu Garden for their one ramen dish with duck (not sure if Guu Garden still serves it). These kinds of noodles are curly and have a good bite to them. Pre-made yes, but for this ramen it was totally acceptable. I think they’re also easier to cook because they don’t have a ton of flour covering the noodles, so your cooking water doesn’t get all floury and require changing.

The egg had a soft, gooey yolk and did the job.

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This pork had an almost Chinese cha-siu (bbq pork) texture and flavour to it. In retrospect, this pork could’ve been omitted because the pork belly (below) was SO GOOD and made this cha-siu-style pork a bit unnecessary.

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The highlight of the ramen bowl: succulent, tender, juicy pork belly. I couldn’t get all the details of their brine and braise, but it almost had a citrus dimension to it that was really delicious and fascinating. Whatever they did to this pork belly, they should keep on doing it. PERFECT for those pork belly aficionados who prefer super-tender, melt-in-the-mouth pork belly!

The serving size was huge! You’ll definitely leave Twice on Sundays stuffed! Ultimately, it was a good bowl of ramen with an awesome pork belly.

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One of my first serious beer and ramen pairings. I think Sorachi Ace was a good match. The effervescence is great for refreshing your palate and washing away the fat. The lemony saison flavours worked ok with the bowl as a whole. Since this is a lighter, shoyu-style ramen, I would stick with lighter beers rather than more full-on beers (which might work better with richer ramens like tonkotsu).

It was a really fun experience. Even though not everyone at the table considered themselves a “foodie”, you HAVE to be at least some level of foodie to attend this kind of event in the first place 😛 so it was great just to be with a bunch of like-minded people who have a slightly deeper appreciation for food. I’m keeping my eye out for future events by the Twice on Sundays guys.

Side note: everyone at the table was Asian. I thought that was funny. Asians do love food (and yes, like taking pictures of their food too).

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