Suanne and I went downtown to cover an event a couple of weeks ago. Since the event was late beyond our normal dinner time and does not really serve food, we decided to just go check out the place which Rey was raving about.
Many would claim that Kintaro’s Ramen is the best in Vancouver. If I recall correctly, Rey even said that Kintaro has the best Ramen outside of Japan … something like that … something like wow, you just gotta try it!
We had seen lines outside the small restaurant before and it was something that put us off trying Kintaro. This time we were there at 5:30PM, just before dinner rush hour. There were tables available at that time. However, by 6PM there were already people patiently waiting outside the restaurant for a table.
Despite its popularity, the restaurant is unbelievably small and if I could add, spartan. I guess it is the charm of a place like this. It is its simplicity that adds to the charm. In Kintaro, it is all about Ramen, and about Ramen. I always believe that a setup like Kintaro is best left as it is … i.e. they should not change a proven formula by expanding this place or remove the long lines! LOL!
I absolutely had no idea what they were all shouting about throughout the time we were there. They shouted the moment we walked in … each time a customer walks out or make an order.
Service was polite. They were polite and patient when they took our orders even though we had so many questions on their menu. I guess it was OK then because there were not so many customers. When the lines starts to form, they were politely coming around very fast the moment we put down a chopstick asking if we are done. I understand that they wanted to turn the tables as fast as they can. They did it politely and we understand. Kintaro is not a place where you would dine … I say spending 45 minutes here is stretching it a bit too long during peak hours. It’s order-eat-pay-go here.
The Red Pepper Mix above (called Shichimi Togarashi) is a common Japanese spice mix used for soups and noodles. It’s a mix of 7 kinds of ingredients.
Kintaro’s menu is a simple 1-pager. We opted for the one that stated “Kintaro’s BEST!”. It is the Miso Ramen ($8).
At the time of ordering here, you need to decide on the richness of the broth (rich, medium or light) and either you wanted fat or lean pork. We asked for RICH broth and FAT pork.
Kintaro’s menu says that their soup is flavored with a blend of soy bean pastes from 4 different Japanese regions and twelve spices. Whatever it is, the soup was very flavorful. The broth was way too rich which somehow made us feel full. We should have asked for medium instead. You could ask for additional toppings ranging from $1-$2 but we did not bother with that.
There were 2 big slices of rather thick pork with mouth-watering marblings. This was like the ultimate in pork … goodness-delicious melt-in-your-mouth type. It was way better than the rather comparatively pitiful ones we had at G-Men — no comparison really.
I can see why Kintaro’s Ramen is so good. Firstly, the broth is out of this world. Then it was the perfect slices of fat pork. The noodles too were awesome. Made very well and has that perfect texture to it.
The Shichimi was great with the noodles. We are going to go buy this for our home next time we go grocery shopping.
Each of the bowls we had were too much for us. Their bowls must have been like 8″ or 9″ across.
So what is in Kintaro’s broth that makes it what it is? The video above say that there are 35 secret ingredients and went on to describe four of them. Interesting video if you are keen to know more behind Kintaro’s ramen.
Towards the end of this video, it does talk about their Special Chicken Based Soup which is available only on Saturdays. Have any of you tried it before?
Suanne decided to be adventurous and ordered the Cheese Ramen. She was kind of influenced by the words on the menu that says “Ladies just l-o-o-o-v-e it!”.
It has the same nice tender pork. The broth is basically miso but is balanced with 2 kinds of cheeses. The grated cheese is Swiss while the slice cheese is Mozarella. The grated cheese melts into the hot broth making it milkier. The balance between the cheese and broth is not too bad. It has an interesting flavor to it … it is “different” up to a point I would say it has a “strange” flavour.
The above is called Hanpayarou and is only 95 cents. It is not on the menu but is pasted on the wall. Kind of cheap huh? It is a big portion … and the meat is cold and dry’ish. I think these are the left over and side pieces from their pork slices. Perhaps that explains why it is so cheap.
The meal is just under $20 for the two of us. The food is perfect and excellent. You need to deal with the line-ups and feeling being rushed through your meal here. Set that expectation right and I think you will end up going away quite satisfied.