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 main thing that differentiates Ramen Taka’s style of ramen versus others in town is that they use a pork/vegetable/seafood-based broth (no chicken) and top your bowl with a hot shower of “Hokkaido lard”, which you can witness being applied here:
I visited a few days before their grand opening that’s on April 9, 2018, but they had already been in soft-opening phase for a couple weeks, so I thought it safe to visit. Plus they’re already using recipes from their original Japanese locations, so I didn’t feel there was much for them to tweak or refine.
They’ve made minimal changes to the facade.
Easy hours. 11–11 daily.
Ramen. Sapporo beer. Sake.
Was no inconvenience to me at all.
Their mission statement.
Menu. They do a pork/vegetable/seafood-based chintan (clear broth) ramen, with the usual variations of shoyu, shio, miso, and spicy miso. As far as I know, all of these have the boiling hot Hokkaido lard added on top. Nowadays, their pricing is considered standard.
They also have a vegan ramen. I assume there’s no lard added to this one. Ramen menu also available on their Japanese website.
Sides of “chikin” karaage, wings, teppan gyoza, and (surprisingly) french fries.
Booze options. Gone are the minimal craft beer options that Ramenman had, replaced with just Sapporo (which I’m fine with). I’d probably spring for a sake if I had to drink.
The “Beer & Appetizer” thing will have to wait until next time.
I’m doing a “White Dragon” sea salt (shio) ramen today to get the most clear sense of their base broth.
YES! Imma do a bib, of course.
It’s like wearing a flimsy plastic bag. Even has a pocket at the bottom. Does the job. If you’re concerned about the environment, skip this.
They so “soup wari” (extra plain broth) here too, like how Taishoken does. Might be worth it if your stomach can handle all the liquid. Mine couldn’t.
Chopstick box on the table.
Coolest chopsticks! The ends are grooved to make it easier to pick up slippery things.
Only tableside condiment of note is chili flakes.
Iron Pan Gyoza ($4.95). Comes with a crispy gyoza “skirt” that’s not as lacy as Gyoza Bar (review here).
The skirt is really thin but more chewy than crispy. Also dry, so it sticks to your lips like the inner wrapper of white rabbit candy.
The frying needs a bit of work. Felt like there wasn’t enough water to get the top seams and the bottoms moist enough to cook through, and it also lacked enough oil to get the bottoms and the skirt crispy and browned in the right way. The iron teppan was noticeably dry and not oily, so I think if they add more oil and water when they cook the gyozas, it’ll turn out better.
Standard gyoza dipping sauce.
Filling has a loose texture but is a bit too cabbage-heavy. A bit more pork and touch more seasoning would make these better. They should sneak into Hokkaido Ramen Santouka and try their gyozas because I think theirs has one of the better seasoned fillings in town.
White Dragon (Sea Salt) Ramen ($11.95). Comes with menma (bamboo shoots), half an egg, kikurage (wood ear fungus), seaweed (wakame?), green onions, one sheet of nori (dried seaweed), and a single very large slice of chashu (pork).
Just like Yaguchiya Ramen in Burnaby (review here and more thoughts on Instagram here), Ramen Taka serves their ramen HOT. Super temperature hot! So slurping is a must. That layer of Hokkaido lard helps keep the broth hot too.
The broth has a bit of thickness to it, but it’s not as heavy or rich as tonkotsu broth. It’s really well-balanced, with no one flavour sticking out. I can’t even begin to describe the flavour, and that’s a good thing. Good body, depth, and complexity. Satisfying.
The chashu here is really different. It’s a huge lean cut of pork but sliced really thin. I think the idea here is to let it “braise” in your soup so it gets warm and absorbs the broth. It *is* a lean cut so it is admittedly dry when compared to belly or shoulder. I don’t hate it. If you eat here, you’ll have to accept their style of doing chashu because they only do it this way.
The egg is a soft-boiled and (as far as I can tell) not marinated*, which is fine because it contrasts more with the rest of the bowl.
*Correction: the egg is listed on the menu as “flavoured”, so it probably is marinated…but maybe not as much as other eggs that show more of a dark soy sauce appearance on the outside.
Noodles are slightly wavy, thin noodles. Good smooth texture and moderate bite. They did get a bit softer towards the end of my bowl, but nowhere near mushy. I like these noodles and think they’re a great match for the soup.
My stomach full of gyoza and ramen, so I couldn’t do the extra soup wari thing.
Just like their previous business, they have stamp cards.
Overall a good first experience. A solid bowl of ramen with some unique touches. Gyoza needs work, but I’d come back to try their karaage and other flavours of ramen.
[ no zomato listing yet. whatevs. ]