The last two weeks had been a blast for all of us in Vancouver, hasn’t it? Without a doubt, yesterday was the high point of the Olympic. We felt so proud of being Canadian and having hosted the world in this great sporting event. Hope the legacy now in place will lead the city to greater things in years to come. We now nervously wait for the accounts people to tally the tab!
Last Saturday was the final dress rehearsals of the Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremony for Arkensen and Nanzaro. They received an email just the night prior informing that they need to do TWO dress rehearsals instead of one. So instead of 11:15AM to 7:00PM, they were informed that they need to stay right until 10:30PM. They sure worked hard for it … and in total secrecy too. We are actually proud that they kept it a total secret from us. We finally saw their performance on TV! But damn the guys at CTV who cut out a LARGE part of their performance to air commercials!!!! Both Arkensen and Nanzaro was so totally upset when they saw the replay last night. They practiced so hard to show the WORLD.
After dropping the boys off for their final practice, Suanne and I thought we go to the section of downtown for lunch knowing that the western part of Robson is quiet. Indeed it was. There was lots of street parking around.
We went to Santouka, the new Ramen place that everyone is raving about the past few weeks. Apparently, Santouka is a popular chain restaurant in Japan which specializes on serving Hokkaido ramen. I think they also operate a chain in the US too.
Santouka is located just next door to Guu with Garlic on Robson Street. You might miss it because the shop front is hidden behind a bus shelter. Anyway, the address is 1690 Robson Street.
We were surprised to learned that they had been opened only for the second day. We assumed that it was already a week since they opened. The restaurant was busy, not quite full but given it being opened for just the second day, we were impressed.
The dining area seats about 35-40 people. There are counter seats that overlooks the open kitchen which was separated by glass which we thought was good because it does not steam up the entire restaurant with the boiling broth.
We were seated at the section in front where there is a low kidney shaped table which has a large wooden carving of a bear in the center. We like that section. The only draw back was that there is no where to hang our coats or place our bags.
Service was excellent as one expects from Japanese restaurant.
We were promptly served glasses of water with mini ice-cubes. For a restaurant this size, there were a lot of waitresses. There were four of them milling around ever ready to help when needed. So yeah, we get almost anything instantaneously and the glasses were always topped.
Their menu came in a plastic binder and has pictures. They only have limited selection on that day. Basically we only can order from the first two pages. What a bummer.
The other pages were items they will only serve on their grand opening day. Click on the images above to see a more legible version of the menu.
I ordered item listed under the section that says “Limited Quantity: First Come First Serve”. I see a lot of ramen places does this “limited quantity” thing that makes people want to order that even though it is more expensive. The normal ramen is about $9 while the “limited quantity” ones are $13.
I got the Toroniku Kara Miso Ramen. It came served with a bowl of noodles in a spicy hot miso soup and a side plate with all the other ingredients including the pork jowl which is the star of this dish. First thing we did was to taste the soup … in a word, awesome. It is sesame flavoured and rich. I don’t know how to describe this better … it is not the smooth kind of broth but grainy (?).
The noodles was equally good and tasty too. We could even eat this alone with the soup … without anything else if we want.
He he he … it was so good that the picture above even pulsates. It was a neat trick that I recently picked up from Gwilli of This Blog Has Zero Carbs (thanks Gwilli for the tutorial!).
The best part — the pork jowl! Fatty and melts in your mouth. Yeah, I know this is not for everyone but I enjoyed this a lot. And they have quite a lot of it served too (like 8 pieces or so). This is what makes the ramen $13.
The sides that came with the ramen included fresh scallions, cloud ears and bamboo shoots. It is better that had it on the side so that you add it just before you eat. This is so that it does not soak in the soup for too long and losing its distinctive taste in the process.
What caught our attention was the fancy soup spoon. I could not figure out why it was shaped the way it was. It was not until we saw our Japanese neighbor using it. Neat design huh? The Japanese thinks about the darnest things.
Suanne’s order is the Miso Ramen ($9). It is a dollar more expensive than Benkei ($7) and Kintaro ($8). The pork broth is seasoned with miso. It is noticeably more oily but is very flavourful and rich.
You have the option to supersize or undersize your ramen with addition or subtraction of $1.
We are no ramen expert but we enjoyed it all the same. We felt that the ramen in Kintaro and Benkei is better.
The ramen in Santouka is pricier. Only time will tell how they will do in Vancouver. I think despite their higher prices they will do just fine because the clientele in this part of Vancouver does not think much about pricing. Btw, Santouka accepts cash only.
Their Grand Opening is on Friday this week. They will be giving away 100 free ramens on that day. I can imagine there will be a lot of people who will be lining up. Given all the Olympic line practices (gosh, 6 hours for the zip line?) you all had the last two weeks this will be a snap for you.