First Look: Iekei Style Ramen at Yaguchiya Ramen in Burnaby

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.

Yaguchiya Ramen is right beside The Bao Place (early review here) and across the street from Superstore at Metrotown. They serve “iekei” style pork-and-chicken-based ramen here, much like Yah Yah Ya in Richmond and downtown (review here for comparison).

They’re still in soft-opening phase, so their hours are reduced:

Regular hours on the left, temporary hours on the right.

The room is a bit stark and spare at the moment. There’s three tables that seat four each, and four seats at the window counter. The restrooms are the two doors you see on the left, with the kitchen in the back. The criss-crossing traffic from the kitchen and to the washrooms is a bit tricky, so I’d suggest you be careful unless you want to wear a HOT bowl of ramen (and I mean HOT — see below).

The menu.

The back of the menu. There’s a much easier to read version of their menu online.

I didn’t notice until later that they offer customizations for your bowl of ramen. Besides the regular defaults, you can get your noodles soft or hard, “taste” mild or strong, and oil “a little or a lot”. I ordered my ramen as-is, without any customizations.

Side note: I think every ramen place will accomodate requests for hard or soft noodles, and a little or a lot of oil. So when I read reviews where people gripe that their ramen was too oily, I’m pretty sure you can ask them to hold back on the oil if that’s what you want. Don’t wallow in your state of “learned helplessness”! (I could totally take my own advice.)

Their recommended combination of free seasonings to put on your ramen. I think they mean “chili bean paste” instead of “spicy miso”, because there was no miso to be found.

Free tableside condiments (L-R): chili bean paste, grated garlic, and grated ginger.

The chili bean paste had lots of skins and some seeds.

The grated garlic was of course pungent.

Grated ginger was a lovely sight.

Also vinegar and black pepper.

Gyoza ($4.95). The frying looks ok but the wrapper didn’t retain any crispiness.

I have a hunch that they’re made in-house but with pre-made wrappers. Something about the edge on the wrappers… This is all just speculation 😀

The filling was a bit soft but not as mushy as Yah Yah Ya’s gyoza. Flavour was middle-of-the-road. The gyozas felt a bit underfilled. Not bad but not amazing either.

Shoyu Ramen ($9.75 for regular size). Comes with three large sheets of nori, which basically obscure the whole bowl. Lots of nori seems to be the iekei style trademark.

There’s also spinach, chashu, and a bit of finely sliced leeks.

The chashu looked and tasted like pork shoulder to me rather than belly, but they do offer pork belly as an additional topping for $1 per piece. They also offer kakuni (braised pork belly) for $3. This chashu was somewhat tender but with a meaty chew to it, at times reminding me of chewing through a piece of Chinese charsiu. Good porky flavour but no detectable braise or marinade that might’ve added another layer of flavour.

The ramen arrived SUPER HOT. You’re gonna burn your tongue. Deal with it. Slurp vigorously. The broth is a hybrid of thick, cloudy tonkotsu broth and clear, clean Tokyo shoyu style broth. This makes for a pretty similar flavour overall as Yah Yah Ya, who also do iekei style ramen. I think of it as a lighter style of tonkotsu that doesn’t leave you as weighed-down as a full-on tonkotsu. I wouldn’t change much about the broth. Good body, moderate complexity, but with a lightness (as far as tonkotsu goes). The layer of oil helps keep the broth HOT.

I find the noodles a bit fascinating. They’ve got a bit of a wavy, crinkly rustic quality to them. I don’t know if they make these in-house or if someone else makes them for them, but I really enjoyed these slightly thicker and quite chewy and robust noodles. They kept their firmness throughout my meal. If this is the regular default hardness for their noodles, I’m not sure I’d want to try their “hard” option. These had plenty of chew and texture for someone who loves chew in their noodles.

Halfway through my bowl, I added vinegar, grated ginger, and black pepper. This is where you can really make it your own. I loved finishing my bowl with these additions. The vinegar and ginger are great for cutting through the richness and oiliness.

I can’t read that.

Sorry I didn’t try their egg, but from what people have been posting on Instagram, it looks good. From what I did try, this place is already on par with Yah Yah Ya, so this place is recommended.

Yaguchiya Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This adult store is on the same block as Yaguchiya Ramen. So if you’re looking for “performance enhancers” or are curious about BDSM… I find it interesting that this is a Chinese chain of stores cuz Chinese people (like my parents) NEVER talk about sex. I had to learn it all at school and on “the streets”.

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