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Friday, 23 March 2012

Kintaro Ramen (金太郎)...Slurp, Slurp, Slurp!

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I was hungry while walking around in downtown doing street photography. As Ying and I passed by Kintaro, we discovered there wasn’t much of a lineup! Win! So we hurried in and discovered that the inside was still packed. Oh well… So we waited… and waited. Finally, we got a seat in about 20 minutes. Kintaro is a hole-in-a-wall Japanese restaurant that specializes in ramen. If you only do one thing, you better be very good at it. This saying applies here. They make excellent ramen and is synonymous with best ramen in Vancouver in my book.
This is Kintaro’s business hours. They open late and close late. Like many Japanese restaurants, they close on Monday. I tried to google this phenomenon before… Why do Japanese restaurants tend to close on Monday? I still can’t find a clear answer. However, many people suspect that most restaurants do not get fish shipments on Sunday and thus, fresh fish is unavailable on Monday. This really has nothing to do with Kintaro because they don’t serve sushi!?! *puzzled*
The menu is simple. One page only. They have various kinds of ramen including the traditional shoyu (soy sauce soup base), shio (port bone stock base) and miso (soy paste soup base) ramen as well as specialty ones (cheese and cold ramen). Aside from their regular menu, Ying discovered an extra menu that only has one item: spicy garlic ramen (see pictures above). At the time of your order, you will also be asked how fat your soup and BBQ pork you desire. From my previous visit, I learned that rich soup means the chef would take a piece of fat and shake it on top of your soup. The taste was good but it was so unhealthy. As to BBQ pork, I always opt for the fatty ones :) Aside from ramen, Kintaro also serves appetizers which we were hesitant to get knowing that the ramen portion size is huge and we probably won’t be able to finish. Do note that this place is a no go if you are a vegetarian. All ramen is made from pork soup base. IMG_8319-copy_thumb2
IMG_8318-copy_thumb1 If you are looking for fine dining and dress up formal kind of dinner, you are in the wrong place. Kintaro is a casual, down to earth, friendly neighbourhood kind of restaurant. It’s the kind of place you want to sit down with a friend after work and just chat and chill with a beer and some Japanese comfort food. While Ying and I was waiting, we were watching the chefs efficiently preparing our ramen. It seems like they make 6 bowls at a time regardless of the kind of ramen that was ordered. Based on the order, one of the chiefs would prepare the toppings and the other one is in charge of making noodles and soup. It took about 15 minutes for the ramen to be prepared. It’s amusing to watch how ramen is made from scratch right in front of your eyes. It’s kind of like lego. When you have individual pieces, nothing amazing happens. But when you piece them all together, you get wonderful results!

The wait is over. A huge bowl of Spicy Garlic Ramen arrived in front of Ying! The big yellow ball on top is the breath destroyer – garlic. I told Ying not to use all of it. Disregarding my advice, she mixed the whole ball into her soup. The result was, great tasting ramen and lasting garlic breath. The other ingredients were pork, egg, bean spout, and bamboo shoot pieces. Ying quite liked her ramen and when I tried hers, it wasn’t as spicy as I imagined it would be. The soup was tasty and noodle was chewy. Due to the substantial size, Ying was unable to finish. Well done Kintaro.

Mine arrived right after Ying’s. Miso Ramen (soy paste base) for $7.95 in lean soup. Aside from the excellently made springy noodle, it came with corn, bamboo shoot, bean spout and pork. It had a rich miso taste. The pork really wasn’t all that impressive here however. It was tender and had great texture, but the taste was rather bland in comparison to the taste of the soup. Of cause, I sprinkled the ramen seasoning on my noodle to enhance the taste. slurp slurp slurp! 

IMG_8323-copy_thumb1IMG_8331-copy_thumb1The overall experience was fairly pleasant. The food was enjoyable. The atmosphere was down to earth and cozy. Watching your ramen being made was amusing. The servers were polite and thoughtful. The ramen was big and inexpensive. I wish the waiting time isn’t as long and the restaurant is a bit bigger. 

The Yummies:
  • Perfectly cooked ramen noodle
  • Reasonably priced
  • Big portion size
  • Friendly staff
The Yuckies:
  • Long wait time, long lineup
  • Very hot! Imagine 4 huge pots constantly boiling soup/noodles and little ventilation -- well they have fans that kinda help...

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Kintaro Ramen 金太郞 on Urbanspoon


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