Lunch Quickie: Damn So-So Ramen at Damso

Reviews have been middling for the newish Bute St. location of Damso, but it’s close to work and their banners have been screaming out at me about KOREAN BBQ TACOS, OSSO BUCO and SPICY SEOUL RAMEN! So with an open heart and an empty stomach, I took a chance and tried their “ramen”.

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This location of Damso is on Bute near Robson. This space used to be the first North American location of Ramen Sanpachi, which started out “not bad” but quickly devolved into “this broth tastes like water, why am I eating here?” and eventually closed down. Before Ramen Sanpachi, this space used to be Royal Thai. Damso’s first location on Denman St. has been there for ages, known for their modern take on Korean cuisine, so let’s hope that this location doesn’t become another “restaurant black hole”.

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That looks like a thick layer of spicy chili oil on top. Hmm…

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I like gamjatang a lot but we make a pretty decent version at home, so I’ll pass on this. Plus, bags of pork neck/back bones (with meat still attached!) are super cheap, so homemade gamjatang is super-economical and super-tasty! What’s the point of ordering home food in a restaurant? It’d be like ordering toast in a cafe! What? People do that? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit…

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Iconic Korean ramen, eh? The only Korean ramen that comes to mind is Shin Ramyun instant noodle.

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I DO like that they have a dish called “Holy Sh*t!!! Super Spicy Stir Fried Noodle”…THREE exclamation marks!!!

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Yikes! I ain’t drinkin’ here!

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Spicy Seoul Ramyun. At $8.99, it’s in the middle of the pack as far as ramen pricing goes. However, I wish they gave a bit more meat. I was surpised to see a sous vide (!) egg instead of a soft-boiled/marinated egg. Spice level was about a medium. Spicy enough to make me sweat, but the heat didn’t linger or overwhelm my mouth. Spiciness is accentuated by the hot hot hot serving temperature.

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The noodles are on the thinner side. However, not enough texture or bite for my taste. The soup was good on its own, but perhaps a bit underseasoned because it really didn’t flavour the noodles all that well as I was eating. I was alternating between bites of somewhat bland noodles and slurps of ok soup. There was a good depth to the soup but needed a bit more seasoning or intensity.

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Big surprise was the sous-vide egg. My guess is 64°C? It’s that stage where the yolk is like a gel. Somewhat firm and holds its shape but still soft. The meat was like the thinly sliced/shredded meat you might find on a bibimbap or bulgogi dish. Unfortunately, the meat was quite bland by itself and need to be submerged in the soup to get some flavour. Most fascinating part of the ramen was this thinly shaved stuff that resembled thin sheets of bonito. You can see some of it folded up in the bottom of the above picture. Unfolded, they’re like translucent thin brown sheets of chewy fish. Definitely had that texture of bonito flakes when you eat it.

This ramen was a bit of a letdown. It was a combination of so-so noodles, ok broth, bland meat, good egg, and spicy but bland chili oil. If you don’t like a layer of oil on your ramen, I’d avoid this one.

Curiously, the people sitting around me seemed to be repeat customers, so some people are keeping this place busy at lunchtime, despite the 52% rating on Urbanspitoon. I for one have bigger fish to fry…

Damso Modern Korean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Addendum: Almost forgot! The highlight of my lunch was hearing these songs over the house sound system:

4 thoughts on “Lunch Quickie: Damn So-So Ramen at Damso”

  1. Thanks for saving me from meh ramen! Went to Hida Takayama for lunch last week after my stomach told me not to wait in line at Santouka.

    Loved the idea of the sunny upstairs hideaway and decent reviews but tough, chewy pork and super bland gyoza had me cursing myself for not going to Maratuma instead.
    I always have great ramen there! The best egg in town and super tasty broth -and tender pork.
    Tomorrow for sure!

  2. My boyfriend and I had the SAME reaction – we REALLY wanted to like this place, but weren’t impressed by both the food & service.

  3. Thanks for the comments, folks! Speaking of Takayama, I haven’t eaten there since 2012. I went a few times back then, and my first time was pretty good but other times less so. Might be a good idea to check them out again. I think I’ll post a couple pics of their ramen to Instagram 🙂

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