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Best ramen in Vancouver?

Finally checked out Kintaro Ramen at Denman and Robson today and was blown away. What are some of your faves?

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  1. Top for me is Hokkaido Ramen Santouka on Robson. All their regular ramen I've tried is good quality, broth is tasty and the toroniku (their specialty pork) is stupid good. Go early to avoid lines.

    Big fan of the shio ramen at Kimura on Rupert (weekend days only). I also thought the black ramen at Jinya on the other end of Robson was worthwhile.

    2 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      Santouka's toroniku ramen and Jinya's black ramen are my top two faves.

      1. re: grayelf

        Quick note that Kimura is sadly no more. Also that there is a seasonal tan tan noodles at Santouka that was NOT salutary -- verged on inedible because of the soup/sauce.

      2. I love Ramen but have honestly not bothered to sample many other places after my partner and I found Kintaro. We live in the West End so when I drive by and there is no line we often park the car at home and walk on over before a line forms. Might try some of the recomendations Grayelf has made, the Toroniku sounds delish.

        1. I've always had good ramen at Sanpachi on Robson/Bute.

          Not as crazy about Menya nor Benkei on Broadway on either side of Cambie.

          But my knowledge of ramen and familiarity of local purveyors is very limited, I learn a lot by seeing what you guys say here !

          1. I spent five months in tokyo and had countless bowls of superb ramen there. Every time I've had ramen since has been disappointing. I've heard that G-Men in richmond [http://g-ramen.com/] is the best in metro vancouver, but haven't yet been. Perhaps someone at Ippudo [http://www.ippudo.com/index.html] will come to their senses and open a branch here [please!]?

            Although somewhat unrelated, it would be amazing to have a Din Tai Fung location here as well [http://www.dintaifung.com.tw/en/about...].

            2 Replies
            1. re: Le Beep

              The ramen at G-Men (the original location at Continental Plaza) was good....but I think Santouka, and Jinya and the other places downtown are a bit better, IMO. The closest in style to Ippudo's - particularly its Kasane Black is the Black Ramen at Jinya.

              1. re: fmed

                thanks Fmed, I'll make sure to check out Jinya!

            2. I've been to about 5 or 6 places all over the GVRD and it's difficult to really define which one is 'the best' I think that Santouka on Robson probably has the best tasting broth as it is a bit creamy. However, I'm not a big fan of their noodles and prefer the ones over at Motomachi Shokudo, which is about 150 feet from Kintaro. So, what is your criteria for best: noodles, broth, toppings, overall taste?

              Portion size and taste seem to be an issue at Benkei, especially at the Thrulow location. Every time we've gone there, we only get a fraction of the noodles you would get anywhere else. At least the meal is quick!! I'm more of a fan of rich tasting pork broths, and the soup base at Benkei doesn't cut it for me when you are comparing their miso, shoyu, and shio varieties. I do, however, like their curry ramen, but portion size is on the small side. If you do choose to go to Benkei, they have a stamp card to get a free ramen after a certain number. My wife has the card and we redeemed our freebie back in January.

              I've also tried Jinya just before a BC Lions game and thought their ramen was average. Maybe I'll try the black ramen next time if I'm at that end of town. Their soup base and toppings reminded me more of a Chinese type soup/noodle dish.

              At Santouka, my favorite is the toroniku ramen (pork belly?). It's like ramen noodles and soup with your toppings on the side. That is, you get a bowl of noodles/soup and there is a separate plate containing the yummy sliced pork and other toppings. It's a bit on the salty side, but the flavour is great. There noodles are a bit mushy compared to Kintaro and Motomachi, but the dish is still very enjoyable.

              If you are not into pork based soups and want to eat a more healthy ramen, Motomachi Shokudo should be on your list. They use alot of organic ingredients where possible and the higher prices reflect that. Portion sizes are great and I'm a fan of their vegetable ramen as well as their miso ramen. Like I said before, they have great noodles and the soup base is not overly salty. If hard boiled egg is on you list of ramen add ons, this place cooks their eggs with the centres undercooked, which is my preference, so you get that great orange colour and it tastes great. In the summer, you will appreciate their ice cold air conditioning.

              That place inside Metrotown mall wasn't very good and I don't remember the name. It was convenient though as we didn't have to step outside the mall to get our ramen fix. Don't bother with this place unless you have an extreme craving for ramen. By the way, the all you can eat japanese place next door wasn't so good either. Comfortable seating, but very average food.

              My overall favorite is Kintaro and I usually get the miso ramen or the special spicy miso and garlic ramen that is advertised on it's own little stand up card at the table. I'm not sure it's a permanent item as I seem to recall it said limited time only but they've had it ongoing for at least a year and a half now. It's quite garlicy, so make sure you don't have a meeting or something involving talking after eating it. You can, however, scoop some of the garlic mound out of the bowl before digging in. There is also a cheese ramen and the usual suspects: shoyu and shio. With most of the ramen dishes, you can also select the intensity of the broth (light, medium, rich) and the fat level of the pork (lean, medium, fatty). The only downside to this place is not the food, the one large communal table near the window, or the sometimes 45 minute wait to eat, it's the room temperature especially if you are sitting at the counter. This place is like a sauna sometimes. Also be aware that they don't seem to have places to hang your coats unless it's behind your chair. If you want some more pork in your noodles and want to do it on the cheap, order the $1 bowl of pork that was used in boiling the soup. The name eludes me but it's sounds like 'hamtaro'

              The first 2 pictures are from Kintaro: spicy miso garlic ramen and shoyu ramen (i think)
              Pics 3 and 4 are from Santouka: toroniku ramen and some other ramen (don't remember)
              Pic 5 is from Motomachi

              2 Replies
              1. re: darthshoppingmaul

                Darthshoppingmaul said: "That place inside Metrotown mall wasn't very good and I don't remember the name. It was convenient though as we didn't have to step outside the mall to get our ramen fix. Don't bother with this place unless you have an extreme craving for ramen. By the way, the all you can eat japanese place next door wasn't so good either. Comfortable seating, but very average food."

                Love your tag name :-D

                The place inside Metrotown Mall (upstairs from McDonalds) is Kawawa, there's the newer ramen side and their original AYCE sushi side next door. Absolutely awful ramen and AYCE sushi. Don't take my words for it, check all local reviews and you'll see a strong pattern of dissatisfaction (or is that disdain ?) for Kawawa. They are Chinese owned & operated. Under no circumstances should a Chowhounder ever be caught eating at Kawawa ;-)

                1. re: darthshoppingmaul

                  Nice report. Just to clarify, toroniku which you referred to is pork cheek. Much more delicious and rare than pork belly since there's only a small amount of it on each pig. The Italians use it in a various dishes. They cure it and call it guancialli. It's used, for example, in spaghetti all'amatriciana.

                2. Reading this thread with interest while researching a short upcoming Vancouver trip. I probably will only have one chance to eat ramen while in town, and am a big fan of rich, full bodied soup. But I am also picky about noodles; too-soft noodles really ruin a bowl of soup for me. So based on everyone's reports, I should go to Kintaro?

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: pepper_mil

                    My vote goes to Santouka and ask for the noodles katame.

                    1. re: fmed

                      'katame de onegai shimasu' is the most polite way to ask for your noodles on the firm side :-).

                      And it bears repeating: Santouka, go at 11 am, get the toroniku.

                    2. re: pepper_mil

                      +1 for Santouka. As fmed said, ask for the noodles katame. Also, if you want to try the toroniku (pork jowl), go earlier in the day as they will sell out. The toroniku is my favourite part.

                      1. re: pepper_mil

                        One more vote for Santouka. It's a bit more expensive than most of the other ramen places but worth it IMO.

                        1. re: J_Bone

                          Dunno if this is the right place to post this but VanMag says there is a place upstairs in the Robson Public Market called Hida Takayama making their own ramen noodles -- could be worth a look: http://www.vanmag.com/Restaurants/Goo...

                          1. re: grayelf

                            That is definitely worth a look.

                            1. re: fmed

                              Tried it for lunch today. Pretty good, I must say! Very rich, thick soup. Firm noodles. Not busy at all but I like it like that...let's me relax and enjoy the food.

                              Cuz Chowhound sucks for pics and commentary, have a look and read here:


                              1. re: flowbee

                                And I was there with another board denizen for dinner this evening! Agree with your assessment, flowbee. Since there were two of us we also tried one of his chicken broth based ramen ("50s style" ie old school before all the ramen houses went with pork based broth per the proprietor). It was lovely and light. I'd get it with the larger portion of the thicker noodles though -- the thinner ones did get a bit soft. We tried both the chashu and the tan tan men as well.

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  I thought the ramen was pretty good. The chicken broth ramen was lighter and less gelatinous than the usual pork bone ramen. If you like that thick mouthfeel (like I do), then you will miss it when having this ramen. His pork broth was also not as thick as Santouka's.

                                  Props to the house-made noodles which were good - but a notch below Santouka's IMO (Santouka's noodles are made "in-house" too...but down in LA, I believe). The broth and toppings didn't taste as "crafted" as Santouka's and the other others.

                                  A worthy destination for sure, but I don't think that this is the best ramen in town.

                        2. re: pepper_mil

                          Went to Santouka today and had the toroniku. I've never been a huge ramen fan and sadly Ontario was never a hotbed of great (or even decent) ramen but this place was very good. The broth was seasoned well, the noodles had some bounce to it (not soft or mushy at all), and the pork was really tender and still moist even though it's pretty much room temperature on the side.

                          Part of the reason I've never been very enthusiastic about ramen is that most places I've been put bean sprouts in it (which I'm not a huge fan of). I prefer the garnishes that went with the toroniku.

                          1. re: pepper_mil

                            Belated report back - thanks all for the replies. I almost decided to not go to Santouka since Hong Kong also has one and I get to Hong Kong a lot more often than Vancouver, but I did find myself down there on Robson one day and went in. I did get the toroniku and was very impressed, though the fatty pork on the side tasted just a tad overdone to me. I was impressed with how fatty it was though. I would probably try the spicy ramen next time; a girl beside me was eating it and I thought it looked really good.

                          2. i have a sentimental attachment to kintaro, although i'd have to say santouka is the most 'proper' ramen shop in the city, in terms of cooking technique. then again, there really isn't much competition.