Ramen Taka (full name “Ramen Takanotsume”) has taken over the old Ramenman spot on Bidwell near Robson. The new owners used to run the much-loved quality sushi bowl takeout restaurant Kyzock (née Sushi Zero One — Instagram posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and goodbye post here). So they’ve switched from sushi dons to ramen. How’d they do? Pretty good! Deserves another visit. Now the details:
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?
Even after four years, Marutama Ramen (moldy oldy review here) is still considered one of the top ramen places in the city. Definitely Top 5, if not Top 3. Their chicken paitan (cloudy chicken broth) ramen is still unique and well-executed. That slippery aosa seaweed (sea lettuce) has me all [insert sweaty feverish emoji here]. AND their ramen egg is still the most delicious and consistent around.
Their new third location on Main and 13th is called Marutama Gaiden and offers a different take on their chicken paitan ramen. Don’t come here expecting more of the same. Almost everything is different. Here’s my personal take on this place that we tried at the tail end of their two-week soft opening phase.
The new JINYA at TELUS* Garden is like the old JINYA, except given a slick, glitzy, hi-tech makeover. (Review of the old JINYA here, for comparison. Old JINYA location now occupied by the new second location of Marutama Ramen.) This new location shows what’s possible when you have big ramen chain money behind it. The results are positive, and the crowds immense. For now.
* Fun fact: The TELUS style guide requires all instances of the word “Telus” to be spelled in ALLCAPS. So it’s “TELUS”, not “Telus”. This is also like how I’ve seen “JINYA” written in their menu and on their website. Just a note for all your writers and journalists out there… HAH!
The slow proliferation of Japanese-run ramen places has reached the Metrotown area in Burnaby. Yaguchiya Ramen is currently in soft-opening phase but the shoyu ramen I tried already tasted like it hit the mark right out of the gate. It’s a tiny place that seats ~16 people but I can already tell they’re gonna be busy once word gets out. Glad to see real Japanese ramen this far out of downtown.
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.
Toronto ramen chain Touhenboku Ramen opened up in late August 2016 with 50% off and lineups down the block. Now that they’ve settled down somewhat, how are they? Not that good. Save your time and money.
There’s a brick in my stomach right now.
I wrote about Hida Takayama in the Robson Public Market more than a year ago. While not outstanding, I was charmed by the man and the ghetto mall where “other malls go to die”. Longing for a taste of classic shoyu ramen, I went there for lunch and was pleased by their improved housemade noodles and generous portions.
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.