Kintaro has the best ramen in Vancouver. It’s also my favorite restaurant. I’ve eaten here countless times, but have never blogged about it… until now.
I blogged Kintaro’s sister restaurant, Motomachi Shokudo, back in February. Loved it. But Kintaro is still king. Kintaro’s located at 788 Denman Street, steps away from Motomachi, and just off the busy Robson-Denman intersection.
This is actually one of my favorite areas in Vancouver. Head northwest and you’ll hit beautiful Stanley Park; northeast brings you to Coal Harbour. Walk southwest along Denman and you’ll be heading towards the beach @ English Bay, passing numerous mouth-watering desserts along the way. Stroll southeast along Robson, pass by some of the best Japanese Izakayas and Korean BBQs the city has to offer, and you’ll be at the heart of downtown Vancouver in minutes.
In contrast to its great location and beautiful neighborhood, Kintaro’s decor is downright bland. The restaurant is small. There are 4 tables that seat two people, 1 big communal table that seats strangers next to each other, and a few bar seats around the kitchen. The restaurant seats no more than 25 people. The limited seating, combined with its great reputation, usually results in long lines at the door. Expect to wait 0-15 minutes for a seat. Parties of 1 or 2 won’t wait long; trying to get 3 or 4 seats next to each other (either at the bar or at the big table) might take longer.
I like to sit at the bar and watch the 2 chefs do their thing. They work in perfect harmony. As one chef portions out the fresh homemade ramen on a table, the other checks on the large pots of soup. When the ramen reaches perfect al dente state, chef 1 will take it out of the boiling water whilst chef 2 fills a bowl with the flavorful soup. Chef 1 drops the ramen into the bowl, chef 2 adds veggies and meat, and then chef 1 sifts delicious grease over the bowl. They do all this and still have time to greet entering/leaving customers with loud Japanese shouts.
Watch them for a few minutes and you’ll realize that the ~25 seating capacity for the restaurant is ideal. Any more seats and these 2 guys wouldn’t be able to pump out your ramen order in a speedy 5-10 minutes.
And that would be a shame because you don’t want to wait for ramen this good. Besides, ramen should be a quick and comforting meal.
Kintaro offers a few different types of ramen (menu). I ordered a bowl of their Miso Ramen ($7.95), with lean BBQ pork meat and medium soup. If you look closely, you’ll notice clumps of grease on the bowl. That grease is skimmed off the boiling pots of soup and sifted into your bowl before it’s served. Ask for rich soup and you’ll get more grease, more flavour; light soup is less fatty and a bit healthier; medium is self-explanatory.
Sound unhealthy? It probably is. But it’s damn good. No ramen place has better soup than Kintaro. Kintaro, in my opinion, has the best noodles too: they’re the perfect amount of chewiness. Instant noodles these are not.
Daniel threw down a perfect score recently.
I’m gonna have to do the same tonight.
Kintaro gets a 9 out of 9.