Whenever someone suggests ramen for dinner, the first thing that always comes to mind is: line-ups.
Ramen Koika is located on David Street amidst many other culturally diverse restaurants in the area. As you may or may not already know, Vancouver Downtown is filled with ramen shops, but Ramen Koika is the only standing ramen shop on Davie Street which means no competition at all (compared to Robson or Denman where they have clusters of ramen shops!) Anyway, knowing that this place is Korean owned, my hopes weren’t too high that night.
The owner was formerly a bank mortgage specialist but left the industry to pursue his passion in cooking. He spent a good year in Japan learning how to master the art of cooking ramen. Through their online website, they claim that they make their ramen noodles fresh daily..but that is no longer true. The real reason behind why my boyfriend and his friends made the trip here was because his friend wanted to do the “Koika Red Ramen Challenge”. When we asked the waitress about it, we were informed that they no longer offer this challenge to patrons. If restaurants are no longer offering specials or challengers, it would be respectful to have their website updated to avoid disappointment! 😡
Crispy Gyoza ($5.95) Deep fried pork/veggie gyoza (5pcs). I accidentally ordered their deep fried gyozas and not the regular pan fried ones. Whoops! The crispy gyozas were super disappointing 😦 The texture of the gyozas were similar to day-old spring rolls. Meat filling was super dense the batter on the deep fried roll was stale and dry. Overall, this dish lacked flavour and authenticity of Japanese gyozas. 😕
Chiba Black Ramen ($10.95): bamboo shoot, roasted seaweed, soft boiled egg, cha-shu, balck tree fungus, green onion, garlic chip, black garlic oil. You can opt for hard or soft noodles, lean or fatty char shu with your ramen. I really enjoyed my ramen! The broth was aromatic and had a good depth of flavour with the perfect amount of garlic oil essence. My fatty cha shu had a nice char and smoky flavour similar to Kamamarui‘s version of cha-shu. Noodles were pretty decent- nice and thick like Ramen Gojiro’s as well. The rich broth left me wanting to order more noodles but the proportions were sufficient even without.
Tokyo Tsukemen ($10.95): homemade ramen noodles, spicy or non-spicy shoyu tare, shredded park, green onion, roasted seaweed, bamboo shoot. If there’s tsukemen offered on the menu, you can always bet on my boyfriend to order it. He likes to order Tsukemen to compare it with other ramen shops in the Lower Mainland. His favourite to date is Taishoken and it hasn’t changed in over two years of ramen hopping with him. “Tsukemen” translates to dipping noodles and cold noodles served separately with hot dipping soup and toppings on the side. He had his ramen with soft noodles in spicy broth. He liked his noodles, but the broth lacked depth. Although he opted for spicy, the broth had no hint of spicy at all and tasted really salty. The broth also came lukewarm which was pretty disappointing for him to dip with his cold noodles.
Queen’s Ramen ($9.95) : “mild or spicy” carrot, cabbage, mushroom, green onion, spring onion, bean sprouts. This is in chicken broth. My friend’s sister wasn’t a big fan of this one and just said it was “okay”. She opted for mild but thought it was way too spicy for her. She only had a full bites before giving up on the ramen completely.
Kara (Spicy)Miso Ramen ($11.50) Bamboo shoot, ground pork, bean sprouts, green onion, corn. Since my boyfriend’s friend wanted to try the Fire Challenge, this was the closest he could get in terms of having super spicy ramen. In the end, he didn’t think it had enough heat and had to repeatedly dump Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese Mixed Chili Pepper) into the bowl.
Without much expectation to begin with, Ramen Koika was still a letdown in my books. The only dish worth trying is their Chiba Black Ramen. At least you can count on one dish to be satisfying on the menu.
1231 Davie St
Contact: (604) 336 2779