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Kintaro Ramen – Vancouver

October 9th, 2009 · No Comments

Kintaro Ramen - Vancouver Kintaro Ramen - Vancouver Kintaro Ramen - Vancouver Kintaro Ramen - VancouverKintaro Ramen - Vancouver Kintaro Ramen - Vancouver Kintaro Ramen - Vancouver
Some young lady once asked, “Can one desire too much of a good thing?”. She had obviously never been to Kintaro – and also probably hadn’t left the restaurant uncomfortably full – like really, “I need to walk”, “I can barely breathe”, “my legs don’t work so well”-kind-of-full. And all we had was a bowl of simple noodles. That’s how good the ramen is here.

We’ve been meaning to try Kintaro for about 3 years now, but have never wanted to wait in line for the requisite 30 or so minutes to get in the door. But for whatever reason, this Friday night our need for good Japanese comfort food outweighed our usual impatience and so we waited.

But thankfully, about 25 minutes later we were inside, had sat down and were anxiously awaiting our Ramen, that arrived about 10 minutes later.

While the service is efficient and pleasant, at this Ramen shop you don’t interact with the service very much – they take your order and bring you noodles and that’s about it. You don’t come to Kintaro for the ambiance – it’s a small place, with fluorescent lighting and white walls and a huge open kitchen against one wall. You come here for the food, which I’m about to get to.

The ramen? Amazing. We had been to Menya (on Broadway) not long ago at the suggestion of a Japanese friend, and while the ramen was good, it wasn’t “I’d walk there in the rain over broken glass” kind of good. Kintaro is another story. First of all, the serving size is gigantic. We both had miso ramen – D had the vegetable and I had the BBQ pork. You also get to choose the richness (aka fat content) of your broth. At the suggestion of a foodie friend, I ordered mine ‘rich’ and D had hers ‘medium’.

The BBQ pork came with corn, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and four huge pinwheels of pork in the soup, each with several 1cm-thick strips of fat mixed in with the meat – this is rich food, my friends. The vegetable ramen came with broccoli, seaweed, corn, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, napa, and egg. The vegetable ramen was absolutely perfect – the crunchiness of the napa with the chewy-crunchy of the corn, the broth, and the noodles – this is the ‘balance’ that every chef strives for in a perfect dish, and was a great example of why ramen is an art.

The BBQ pork was a bit of another story. For once, even with the first bite (or slurp?), my ramen broth was actually too rich. This tasted as though someone had melted down about a pound of butter/pork fat into the broth. While yes, it was indeed delicious, it was also overwhelmingly rich. The noodles, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, corn – everything was otherwise perfect, but the broth as ordered (my fault, not theirs) was just too rich for me. The BBQ pork – not quite what I’m used to as thinking of BBQ pork (don’t think char siu, my Chinese friends) – instead, think 1-cm thick pinwheels of steamed, almost uncooked bacon. For sure I had a few bites, but even the pork was just too fatty. Look – I’m not putting this dish down – don’t get the wrong impression – it was all delicious – yes, pork fat is delicious – but it was like ordering the foie gras and being served a whole liver, topped with butter and breaded and deep-fried – it would just be too much of a good thing.

About 20 minutes after receiving our noodles, one bowl was empty except for some broth (the veggie-medium broth bowl), and one bowl was down about a half, with 3 uneaten pieces of pork still left. And two of us were completely sated and unbelieveably, eyes-popping-out full. And yes, we were also very happy.

Kintaro is amazing. It’s worth the wait, it’s an unbelieveable bargain for the price; it is a singular food experience. Given the perpetual lineup outside, and the many glowing reviews online – it looks like Rosalind isn’t alone in her desire for too much of a good thing.

Definitely Bon Vivant approved. Bill for 2 bowls of ramen and 2 glasses of water: $20.37 before tip.

Kintaro Ramen
788 Denman St
Vancouver, BC V6G, Canada
Tel: (604) 682-7568
Open Tue-Sun 12pm-11pm (I don’t think they take reservations)


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Tags: Asian · Inexpensive · Japanese · Vancouver

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