Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood has long been famed for its abundance of ramen shops with daily line-ups forming outside its most popular places. Prepare for the noodle-mania to step up its game and get a little more crazy with a new addition to the ‘hood from one of the city’s most popular restaurant groups, Hapa Izakaya, who have launched their first ramen restaurant with Hapa Ramen, which is now open at its Robson Street location. Part of a new ramen trend in the city, Hapa Ramen joins newcomers The Ramenman and West End favourites, Marutama in offering tori paitan-style ramen, made with chicken, rather than a pork-based broth.
“We want to start simple, using a chintan (clear) stock for the soup base and then we’ll add more varieties,” says Hapa Ramen’s chef Tomoki Yamasaki. “Our speciality will be our kimchi ramen, made with a spicy Korean fermented chili paste. You can pick toppings to add to our shio ramen, but our shoyu will be a little more constructed, with the option of adding maa-yu, a charred onion oil which adds bitterness and depth to the flavour. Our noodles are fresh and local.”
Hapa Ramen, 1479 Robson Street will be open from 5pm throughout this week as a soft opening before switching to 11am-11pm daily opening.
Another new West End offering, The Ramenman looks for all the world like a funky Gastown designer restaurant parachuted into a small sidestreet off Robson. They specialise in velvety-smooth positively buttery tasting chicken broth ramen and their charsui pork and chicken is cooked sous vide which gives the meat a wonderfully juicy melt-in-the-mouth texture. Currently offering four kinds of ramen, including a vegetarian option, a stew-like option, and ramen with clams. Perfect for those who don’t eat pork and veggies who feel left out of ramen mania.
Ramenman 841 Bidwell Street. Tue-Sun 11.30am-10pm.
Open back in 2013, Marutama, who have restaurants in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, led the trend for chicken-based ramen in Vancouver. Their slender noodles are made in-house and you can have them either regular-style or with a bit of bite as an al dente option. Offering the largest ramen variety of the chicken ramen shops, Marutama have eight different kinds of chicken broth ramen. Splurge and get the ‘Zenba’ option which comes loaded with the works including roast pork, seaweed, green onions, and a perfectly-cooked egg.
Marutama 780 Bidwell Street. Open daily 11.30am-10pm