The ramen boom from the last few years resulted in imho TOO MANY tonkotsu-style ramen places. Great tonkotsu was already achieved with places like Santouka, Jinya, etc. Chicken paitan was already pretty much perfected by Marutama (with an unique personal take by The Ramenman). I’ve also enjoyed the Iekei-style tonkotsu/Tokyo shoyu hybrid ramen at Yah Yah Ya and Yaguchiya. What I felt was missing from the scene was a classic Tokyo-style shoyu ramen, the kind featured in Tampopo:
(^Funny German dub)
I know clear soups aren’t popular right now, but there’s something classic, nostalgic, and minimalistic about it that appeals to me. So recently, Gyoza Paradise (on Robson and Thurlow back in the 90s, which I never heard of or went to) reopened on Broadway near Arbutus as Gyo Para with a focus on gyoza and chintan (clear broth) style ramen. I was intrigued but wanted to wait until they got their feet. I think 6 months is enough, right?
Gyo Para occupies the old Benjarong Thai Cuisine space. Us nitpicky and finnicky foodies couldn’t keep Bejarong open. (Although sister business Asia Market in the downtown eastside is still hanging on.) I can’t believe B.C. Sushi is still there. Goes to show that there’s a market for people who don’t really care about quality and just want the cheapest shit.
Surprise addition to the menu is “yakimeshi” (Japanese style fried rice).
The hours. Many, many ramen places are closed Monday. So don’t go craving ramen on a Monday.
They recently launched their (sigh) Premium Tonkotsu Ramen, joining the ranks of every other frickin’ ramen place in town.
But I was there to focus on their old school (chintan/clear broth) Shoyu Ramen. Will what was trailblazing in 1993 still taste good today?
You can customize the “amount of lard” and noodle firmness.
Aside from black pepper, this is the only ramen seasoning available (that I could tell). Just didn’t feel like being all garlicky in the afternoon though.
Gyozas, yakimeshi, etc.
The only tableside accompaniment is black pepper.
They have one tv at the counter playing anime. Dunno what anime that was.
Painting on the wall on the right.
Karaage ($5.75) comes with undressed greens, lemon wedge, and a dollop of mayo with a bit of togarashi sprinkled on it.
Very juicy inside but I would’ve liked a darker, crispier fry on the outside. Maybe another minute in the oil? And double the amount of mayo. Good gingeriness and good flavour overall though.
Shoyu Ramen ($9.45). Classic toppings of bamboo shoots, chashu, green onions, spinach, and half a runny ramen egg. I ordered “assári” (regular lard) and firm noodles.
If these are the firm noodles, I don’t wanna try the regular noodles. Hardly firm. Almost limp. The noodles also tasted salty, like either they contained a lot of salt or they absorbed a lot of the salt from the broth. Everything else was good. Chashu was tender and flavourful, and prepared in that classic round trussed shape. Bamboo shoots were crunchy. Spinach so nostalgic with the shoyu broth. But overall, it was a bit boring. I love simplicity and I’m often an minimalist at heart, but this bowl didn’t quite do it for me. (This shoyu ramen bowl I had recently from Hida Takayama is comparatively more exciting and satisfying.)
So, going *just* by these two items, Gyo Para is good enough, but not worth driving across town for. Service was prompt, kitchen was a bit slow, but the place was busy and steady during a Friday lunch, so I think they’ll do well. But for me, the search goes on…