There’s no doubt that Vancouver’s food scene is increasingly becoming more Asian-oriented in some form or another. Literally hundreds of sushi joints, handful of pho establishments, and of course- ramen. I’m crazy about ramen. From the different types of noodle, broth, seasoning, and protein.. the options we have in the Lower Mainland seem endless. You’ll find most popular ramen joints reside in the downtown core such as Ramen Santouka, Ramen Koika, and Ramen Gojiro. Some have branched out to the ‘burbs Ramen Kamamarui, but you seriously can’t beat the ones in downtown for sure. Over the weekend, the boyfriend and I made the trip to his favourite ramen place, Taishoken Ramen to celebrate his little brother’s birthday. It’s funny how we ended up here.. we actually watched a ramen video on Youtube a couple of weeks ago and it instantly made us crave tsukemen, a style of ramen that serves the noodles and broth separately.
Taishoken Ramen is located in ‘Crosstown’ between Gastown and Chinatown best known for specializing in tsukemen. A couple of years ago, this style of ramen was almost unheard of but immensely became popular within the last couple of years. Our party of 4 had to wait about half an hour in line since we had missed the first seating. Unlike the other ramen joints in downtown, the line up here isn’t as long, but there still is a bit of a wait. Interior is considered to be pretty big for a ramen joint with a communal table right at the entrance and a few small tables. Traditional-ish Japanese decor with wooden fixtures.
Here’s a sample of their menu below:
Regular fixings like other ramen joints. Utensils, soy sauce and chili oil/vinegar
Pork Gyoza ($3.50) This came with five pieces. Pretty standard appetizer at ramen joints. Could have used more charring on the outside to get the crispy exterior. If you order a bowl of ramen, the gyoza can be combo’ed up for a cheaper price.
Torigara ($9.95) three slices of chicken chashu, bok choy, snap bea, red ginger, aji-tama, naruto, and nori served in a hearty chicken broth. ‘Torigara’ translates to chicken carcass mixed in with water for a purified chicken broth taste with no roots or herbs incorporated. Kelvin described the broth as similar to regular ramen, but without the fattiness. I had a sip of this and was immediately blown away by how impactful the broth was. If you’re looking for something light and clean, give their Torigara a try!
Miso Tonkotsu ($10.25) with Carmelized Onion (+$1.50)Two slices of pork chashu, negi, moyashi, aji-tama, naruto, nori in creamy mild miso/garlic miso broth. I didn’t get a chance to try the miso version of their tonkotsu, but Chris said he enjoyed it! This one is also available in spicy. They don’t really let you customize your ramen here, but you can ask the waitress to have your noodles hard or soft upon request.
Carmelized onion came in a separate bowl
Tonkotsu ($9.95) Two slices of pork chashu, negi, moyashi, aji-tama, naruto, and nori in golden rich pork and chicken broth. I forgot to mention that you can opt for either pork belly or pork shoulder for your orders here! Every time I come here, I always order this one as my default. Noodles were nice and thick and absorbed the flavourful broth well. Personally, I like the salt level of their broths here as I wasn’t feeling overwhelmingly thirsty after my meal. The egg was pretty standard – more on the above average side as it was nice and runny on the inside. Not as well marinated as other joints like Ramen Santouka. Pork belly however was fantastic, nicely charred.
Spicy Tsukemen ($11.95) with pork shoulder. As mentioned, tsukemen separates the noodle and broth. For tsukemen, the broth is treated more as a dipping sauce for the noodles and the broth is much more concentrated in flavour. Traditionally, tsukemen features chilled noodles that are squeezed and drained of excess water to be dipped in the hot broth. At Taishoken, you have the option of having the noodles served cold or hot. Every time we come here, the boyfriend always gets the spicy version of this dish. Out of all the places we’ve tried so far tsukemen, he still thinks the tsukemen is the best here. Nice chewy thick noodles and great depth of flavour in the broth. I like how add the meat and egg inside the broth instead of leaving it out so it soaks up all the deliciousness.
Sad to say they no longer offer Regular or Large sizes here, but you can always order extra noodles on the side! Service was quite slow that evening and I honestly think the turnover rate should be higher when it comes to ramen joints. For those of you who are curious about trying tsukemen for the first time, I’d definitely recommend coming here just for the experience.
515 Abbott St