Horin Ramen + Sake opened up in late 2018, occupying the space that used to be the short-lived Sanuki Udon (review here). They’ve got an impressively TIGHT menu with only ONE kind of ramen (with five variations that only differ in toppings), two kinds of gyoza, and that’s basically it! With such a narrow focus, they should nail this style of tonkotsu ramen, right? Mostly yes…but the detailed answer is a bit more complicated.
As Wicca says, the beef pho we had here was “aw-pho” (as in “awful”, for the dense people). I try to stay away from superlatives, but that bowl of beef pho we had at Sing Sing Beer Bar was the single worst dish I’ve had in the last year. The chef here is vegan.
Disclaimers about this review:
- Sing Sing were open
less than a weeka week and a half when we visited, so the food and menu will probably change. Hopefully the pho will improve.
- I post this because people like you and me deserve to know how the food is tasting now, if we’re considering risking our hard-earned money on a place with a gloriously wacky concept.
- Consider this a rough guide to what works and what doesn’t right now.
- NOTE: the room got dark really fast, so my photos of the food are horrible. The food actually looks way better in-person.
- There’s some connection to Donnelly Group that I haven’t been able to suss out yet. Sing Sing is a venture by the people behind Back and Forth Bar (the ping pong bar) in Gastown. Could it be Donnelly Group lending support to places that are actually cool? Instead of overwrought and soulless?
- NOTE 2: I wrote this while high, so I’ve gone back afterwards and added a few notes, as noted. 🙂
If you don’t want to read or scroll, here it is in a nutshell:
Good beer list, very fair beer prices, great pizza, the pho is a crime against Vietnamese culture, and the room is VERY LOUD.
With a name like Dachi (“pal” in Japanese), you’d think this was yet another modern Asiany restaurant but it’s actually a snapshot of contemporary Canadian/PNW multiculturalism on a plate that just works in a quiet, accessible, yet sophisticated way. Dachi was just four weeks old when we dined there and we saw influences drawn from Ukranian, German, Asian, and American cultures on the menu. Tight menu and booze list, very well curated. You can feel the experience oozing out of all the industry vets working there. If you’re into seasonal farm-to-table, small plates-style eating, you’ll love this place.
If you like places like Nuba and Jamjar, you’ll love Aleph. We did. You won’t even care that it’s quietly vegetarian.
Shokunin follows a theme that I’ve noticed in Calgary — modern Asian food, not necessarily cooked by Asians, being done respectfully at a high level, and embraced by the dining public. Specifically: Anju (every iteration), Foreign Concept, Two Penny, and — now that I’ve finally tried it — Shokunin. I was really impressed by the quality and attention to detail with their kushiyaki/yakitori and nigiri sushi. The best nigiri I’ve had in an izakaya. Lots of attention paid to flavour, technique, and sourcing of ingredients. Pricing is fair considering the labour involved. I met up with local blogger Miss Foodie and homeboy Hungryslif for a quick shared meal before flying back to Vancouver. Read on for the blow-by-blow.
Moyenchow told me after our meal at Ramen Gaoh that this is by far the best ramen in the area. I agreed. I’d even go so far as to say that this would be worthy even if it was downtown rather than North Burnaby. Along with Grayelf, we beat the lineup on a Sunday morning during their grand opening weekend and came away impressed. Ramen Gaoh specializes in miso ramen, so if that’s your jam it’s worth a visit — especially if you’re in the area.
Absolutely no relation to Kokoro Ramen (Instagram) on Victoria Drive, Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba opened up in late September 2018 and has been buzzing all over Instagram ever since. It joins an interesting student-heavy area of downtown, located right beside BCIT Downtown Campus and is close to other places like Gyoza Bar, Ramen Gojiro, Peaceful, Baghdad Cafe, Koala Kebabs, Cartems Donuts, Smile Diner, and Cinara.
I went for lunch twice in two days to see what the fuss was all about. Great to finally have solid mazesoba (soupless mixed noodle) in town. Prices are a touch steep but the place is loud and busy, so I think they’ll do fine with the student crowd (who actually seem have a ton of discretionary spending money when it comes to food).
Ugly Dumpling isn’t ugly at all. In fact, they bring out the inner beauty of their ingredients in a clean, classically Japanese way. The dishes look and taste beautiful, with no ego nor fancy and unnecessary flourishes.
Steel Toad had a tough time and also an identity crisis. The group behind Tap & Barrel took over the space and have now turned it into BREWHALL and T&B’s experience shows in how well put-together this place is. I haven’t tried any of the food yet, and only had a couple house beers, but this place works.
(Side note: I’m so glad they changed the name from “T&B Brewing Co.” cuz that would’ve been a supreme dick move. R&B Ale & Pizza House is only blocks away.)
It’s the new Havana! Newly recharged with actual Cuban food on the menu, courtesy of the group behind Postmark, Belgard Kitchen, etc. I stopped in for a Cubano to see what Andrew Morrison was raving about. In a nutshell: very good except the pickle element rolled over and died. Plantain chips were excellent.