Every city has its “Bests.” Best burger, best hot dog, best pizza, best brunch, best Italian, best sushi. I think you get my drift. Our short getaway to Vancouver was certainly an attempt to eat the best the city had to offer. With its reputation for all that is Asian, mainly of “Ching Chong Chang” variety, that’s Chinese for all you uneducated racists, we planned each meal in advance. With only a few days to eat the city, we didn’t want to waste prime gastric real estate.
Kintaro came highly recommended as one of the city’s best ramen spots. Time and time again, I am challenged to find a better ramen best than Santouka. Even though it’s “just” a chain, I find the broth there to be the richest and most flavorful. Smooth Obturator complains that its take on ramen is too heavy. I think that’s precisely why I like it, a hot steamy bowl of liquid fat, masked in the deep flavors of salty Japanese crack. It’s addictive but you really can’t eat too much of it or you’ll go into acute renal failure and/or congestive heart failure. I’m so fortunate to be young and unburdened by organ dysfunction, so bring it on!
Kintaro gives you the option of broth richness (light, medium rich) and pork fattiness (lean, fatty). Of course Dumpling Man and Triple T opted for light and lean, while Smooth Obturator and I went with medium, but he went with the fatty chashu pork.
Shoyu Ramen light and lean
They’re not joking with the “lean” chashu pork. It tasted as dry as it looks. The shoyu was good, but I like my ramen unadulterated.
Miso Ramen light and lean
Triple T was afraid it was going to be too salty as most miso ramens tend to be, but they did a good job at tempering the salt here.
Shio Ramen medium and half fatty, half lean
We debated for some time over what all those little white floating bits were in the ramen here and in the next picture. Is it salt? Is it garlic? Could it be…fat??? We decided it had to be fat, since it wasn’t in the ramens with light broth. It was certainly unappealing to look at, but it did add that delicious richness. The fatty chashu was like 50% fat.
Shio Ramen medium, lean
I prefer shio ramen. The flavor was good, but still somehow lacked that delicious zing that Santouka offers.
Judging by broth alone, the ramen here is probably slightly better than Daikokuya and Shin Sen Gumi, but not Santouka, my favorite. I’m beginning to think santouka must use MSG because it just has this tastiness that all its competitors lack. Also, I’m not a huge fan of having so many choices with fattiness, saltiness, noodle chewiness. Serve it one way and serve it good is my philosophy. I certainly was not a fan of the “dry as old tennis shoes” chashu and the visible fat globules, but the overall taste and large portion sizes made up for it. Like your typical Japanese restaurant, the place is the size of a closet, but fortunately the line moves very quickly. The place only takes cash, so bring your loonies and toonies!
788 Denman St
Vancouver, BC V6G 2L5