First Look: Sanpoutei Ramen in Richmond (Have we reached “Peak Ramen”?)

Have we reached “peak ramen”? In the same month that Hapa Ramen opened up, Sanpoutei Ramen in Richmond (next to Parker Place on No. 3 Road) had their grand opening on January 30 20, 2016. In short: good but not worth lining up for. I’d wait until the crowds die down, or go during non-peak periods. There are some unique positives and not many negatives.

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Sanpoutei Ramen is located in a non-descript strip mall between Parker Place and Aberdeen Centre on No. 3 Road.

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This was the lineup around 12:30pm. We didn’t get seated until almost 1:30pm.

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Awwwww, Mom & Dad care!

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Looks like this Jennifer Yap person owns this location?

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Their uh…complex…hours. Closed between lunch and dinner.

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They’re cash-only for now. Maybe forever. Who knows?

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Waiting in the waiting area. Tastefully decorated.

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While you’re waiting, you can watch them make their in-house noodles.

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Sheet of dough pressed out and ready to cut into noodles.

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The guy was precisely weighing each bundle of noodles to ensure consistency.

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They use eggs in their noodles. Same as Marutama.

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I believe that’s the machine used to make the dough.

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Their room sits about 60 people. They even used precious space for a big communal table with a rock garden feature in it. Nice change of pace from all the cramped ramen places downtown. The interior is much better than Hapa Ramen. Less dire.

I now bring you their menu (cuz their online menu kinda sucks):

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Noted.

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Most people know tonkotsu ramen, but Sanpoutei specializes in the more classic shoyu ramen that uses a broth made with pork bones, chicken, and dried sardines. I’d been getting pretty sick of all the tonkotsu (Santouka, Jinya, Benkei, etc, etc) and craved a more classic ramen taste.

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A warning about those oozy yolks that we all love. This is the first time I’ve seen this mentioned in a ramen menu before. They’re really trying to avoid any liability here.

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Their specialty: Niigata Shoyu Ramen. Their variations are just more or less toppings. Helpful glossary in the bottom corner for n00bs. Prices are on the higher end for ramen. All their chashu are aburi chashu, meaning they torch them for taste, aroma and eye-appeal.

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They also do tsukemen, similar to Taishoken in Chinatown. You can read my previous posts about Taishoken here, here, and here.

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The tsukemen and the “maze soba” come with 30% more noodles than their soup ramens. No kaedama (extra noodles) option is listed anywhere.

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In addition to shoyu and tsukemen, they also do tori (chicken) ramen. I’m not sure if they use the same broth for all their ramen.

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They also do maze soba (aka mazemen), which is a soupless ramen which presumably comes with a concentrated stock/sauce that you mix and eat. Not sure if the chicken soup they show on the side is just for you to sip or if you actually pour it into your noodles and mix.

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Rice bowls.

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I love how different regions of Japan have specialties that they’re really proud of.

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This is the first time I’ve seen oden on a ramen menu before.

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No gyoza here…but they have fried chicken!

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Wanna get crunk? Go for their $29 sake tasting set! Ramen is no longer cheap eats. (-_-)’

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Beer selection is dire.

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They say that they only use dried sardines in their ramen broth, but other articles on the net say that they use a combination of dried sardines, chicken, and pork bones. More on that later…

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Finally, we’re seated! They give you a side basket to put your articles into!

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Interesting rock feature in the middle of the table.

While waiting for our food (it took about 20 minutes cuz they were slammed), we noticed a couple sitting next to us where the female didn’t eat her egg yolks and bamboo shoots. WTF?? Do you know anyone who won’t eat the yolk of an egg? What a waste! The guy needed to man up and eat it for her! 😛

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Niigata Shoyu Ramen ($12) without leeks/green onions. Only comes with half an egg and two slices of chashu. Notice the torching on the chashu. The broth was thicker and glossier than I’d anticipated. I was thinking of more of a classic ramen broth (pre-tonkotsu era), but I guess it’s hard to get away from the thick broths nowadays. Maybe I should head back to Kintaro sometime and compare… Nope, just realized that Kintaro is tonkotsu style too -_-

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Wicca was disturbed at how thin they cut their chashu. Very delicious, moist, and meltingly tender…but very very thin and falls apart, emphasizing the fact that you’re getting precious little chashu. So if you love chashu, just go ahead and order the bowls that come with four pieces of chashu or you might be disappointed. The torching is a great feature though. +1 for them. Also, the bamboo shoots are cut really THICK, which we both just loved. Another +1 for them. I had a sip of the shoyu broth and it was a bit too salty, but then I find all ramen broths in Vancouver to be on the salty side. Aside from that, there was a good flavour beyond the saltiness. Some people on Instagram have said that it’s too bland. Others have said it’s too rich and fatty. This was not the case for us.

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Their in-house noodles are flat and a bit wavy. A unique noodle. Good texture and mouthfeel. They did not fuck up their housemade noodles, so another +1 for them.

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Tsukemen ($12.50) – Comes with 30% more noodles, plus bamboo shoots and a whole egg. The egg is good…not quite oozy stage, bit more towards the gelatinous “set” stage. As with most tsukemen, the egg is served cold. I’d prefer if the egg was warmed up a bit. I should’ve put it into my broth.

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They also give you a jug of plain hot broth, like Taishoken in Chinatown. Wicca added some to her shoyu ramen and liked it much better!

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This is the dipping “stew” that comes with the tsukemen. I think that’s black pepper on top. Thick, gelatinous, and clings well to the noodles. Less sweet than Taishoken, and a bit more balanced. Thicker and clings better to your noodles than Ramen Santouka. Small chunks of torched chashu throughout. Not a huge amount in there, but…barely enough I guess. I got a nice smokiness, maybe from the torched chashu. I also got a citrus peel taste, which might’ve been yuzu. Tasty stuff.

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Another shot of their great bamboo shoots. I can’t believe no one on Instagram has mentioned their thick-cut bamboo shoots. Well, I guess that’s what I’m here for…

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Adding the wari soup to my tsukemen broth. We tasted the plain broth by itself and it was predominantly the taste of dashi/bonito/dried sardines. So, I’m not so sure anymore if their base broth for their shoyu ramen contains pork or chicken. I guess I’ll just have to ask next time.

They do a pretty good job here, and we were reasonably happy with the food. But the wait really puts a damper on things, so we’re not in a rush to come back until the initial hype dies down.  Really no negatives with the food so far though.

[ STILL NO ZOMATO LISTING YET. WTF?!! ]

6 thoughts on “First Look: Sanpoutei Ramen in Richmond (Have we reached “Peak Ramen”?)”

    1. According to their Facebook page, their Grand Opening was already on Jan. 20. And according to some Instagram photos, it appears that they were in a soft-opening phase for at least a few days prior.

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