The downtown location of Yah Yah Ya Ramen on Robson St. (same block as Korean supermarket H-Mart) opened up late November 2016. I tried it today and was pleasantly surprised at how good my bowl was. The gyoza, however, was not so good.
Sean and I hit up Yah Yah Ya for lunch. He’s been once already (and had a bad experience but wanted to see if they improved) but this was my first time. We both haven’t been to the original location in Richmond. But from the bowl I had and how satisfied I was, I’m guessing this location is now up to par with the Richmond location that people like Christina have been pretty happy with.
They take US cash at par — which sucks for US visitors 😛 Also, no credit cards. Canadian debit cards only. And they don’t accept anything larger than a $20 US bill.
Ramen side of the menu. Sorry for the reflections.
The ramen & rice combo side of the menu. They’re gonna offer cold ramen (hiyashi chuka) during the summer!
When you walk it, there’s a LARGE, sparse lobby/waiting area. Seems strange that they didn’t extend the dining room into this front area some more. We were there on a Monday and it wasn’t that busy.
YYY specialize in “iekei” style ramen. As far as I can tell, it’s sorta like a Tokyo shoyu style ramen mashed with tonkotsu, resulting in a slightly lighter but no less flavourful pork and chicken-based broth.
They also offer a black garlic oil variation.
They also have shio, and of course miso and spicy miso for the miso-heads. I wanted to try their classic ramen this time, so I stuck with their shoyu ramen. I was pretty impressed by the shoyu ramen, so that made the abura soba (soupless oil noodles) and mazesoba (also soupless, with minced pork) all the more attractive options for next time.
The customizations: noodle firmness, “taste” (which I suppose means the amount of tare or seasoning you want), and amount of chicken oil.
I ordered hard noodles, normal taste, and normal oil BUT for some reason they could only offer the “less” oil option when we went. I have to assume that they didn’t make enough chicken oil.
Additional toppings. Cute. I’ve never seen mentaiko (spicy cod roe) as a ramen topping before. Ah, next time… You can also get torched chashu as a topping as well for $4.50. The chashu that comes with the ramen isn’t torched. I have no freakin’ idea what “Vege Mountain” is. Is it worth climbing? Can anyone read the Japanese characters?
More sides plus an explanation of what iekei ramen is.
One of their locations in Tokyo.
Another location in Tokyo.
In case you didn’t get enough of those drawings.
Gyoza (6 pieces for $5.25). The frying on the bottoms looks great!! But…
The gyoza was crispy enough, but seriously let down by the mushy filling. I found it unpleasant to eat. Almost like the filling was wet and still raw. It was completely cooked though, just mushy and I couldn’t taste or feel much meatiness. Actual flavour was ok but texturally it was off-putting.
The dipping sauce was soy sauce and vinegar.
No containers of soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, or sesame seeds were provided — unlike from what I’ve read about their Richmond location. Apparently, the condiments are all on the long table in the dining room.
Shoyu Ramen ($9.95 for regular size). Comes with spinach, half an ajitama (marinated soft boiled egg), three sheets of nori (seaweed), and two pieces of tender chashu (looks like shoulder to me). I couldn’t see much (if any) of the chicken oil they’re supposed to drizzle on top. But no biggie, this was a tasty bowl.
The curly noodles (ordered “hard”) were springy and had great bite to them. Matches really well with the broth, which I found to be both very flavourful yet light at the same time. It’s got that thick mouthfeel that all tonkotsu broths have, it’s got a flavourful complexity, but I didn’t feel weighed down or overwhelmed afterwards. It’s got a bit of nuance to it — it’s not just stinky pork city. Drunk on its own, the broth is close to the border of being too salty. When eaten with the noodles and toppings, however, it’s perfect. I still drank a lot of my broth afterwards though, and didn’t feel thirsty or overloaded with salt.
Visually, the chashu looks kinda plain and underwhelming, but flavour-wise was good. Tender, well-seasoned…works well enough with the bowl. Not a standout chashu but does the job competently. Same goes for the egg. Visually kinda blah but flavour was good enough. Yolk was appropriately gooey. Blanched spinach was a welcome topping. I would jazz it up with some bamboo shoots and mentaiko next time.
While other places might give you one sheet of nori (if they even offer it in the first place), YYY gives you THREE sheets. I like bundling my noodles in them 🙂
Really quite pleased with this ramen. The broth and noodles are the star and really work well together.
Black pepper and togarashi are the only tableside condiments.
Sean’s Black Tonkotsu Ramen ($11.25 for regular, $13.25 for large). The menu said you can choose thin noodles for this bowl. I hope Sean posts his review soon so I can see if we really diverge on this place or not. 😉
Yah Yah Ya is recommended. Might try the abura or maze next time!