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Eat Snap Repeat

Vancouver's tastiest food blog. Defunct since 2010 :(

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ESR² – Kintaro – Cheese Ramen for the Ladies!!

ESR² = eat snap repeat repeat = when we blog a place repeatedly.

If you’re a regular esr reader, you’ll know that we’re crazy about ramen – and that my favorite ramen joint in Vancouver is Kintaro. Love it.

Growing up, I ate a lot of instant noodles. Like a few packs a week. It’s what my grandma would cook for me when I came home from school. It’s what my mom would cook for me whenever I complained about being hungry at night. And it’s what I cooked for myself when I first moved out on my own a few years ago.

Kintaro - Cheese Ramen

Older, I’ve now diversified my eating habits (chicken wings have recently overtaken vegetables in my 5 basic food groups) so ramen meals aren’t quite as common as before. Still, whenever I take a step into Kintaro, I’m hit with a sense of nostalgia.

Things are a little different now. The cook is an energetic Japanese man that doesn’t resemble my grandma or mom in the slightest. Parking the bike I rode home from school was a lot easier than parking my car around the busy Denman-Robson area that Kintaro’s located in. And the loud, hungry crowds provide the background noise that after-school cartoons used to. But when I sit down and that large bowl of noodles is placed in front of me, I feel like a kid again.

Of course, Kintaro’s authentic ramen is a lot healthier tastier than the instant stuff I used to devour. That’s another reason why I go there often. However, up until this visit, I’ve never tried their Cheese Ramen.

Kintaro - Cheese Ramen

I’ve always wanted to. The description on their menu is… interesting: “Exquisitely balanced special miso soup and two kinds of cheese. Ladies just lo-o-o-ve it!!

Wait what?

Ladies just love it? What about men? Or children? Why do women lo-o-o-ve it? Not like, not love, but lo-o-o-ve with 2 exclamation points? Did Kintaro use scientifc means to arrive at this conclusion? So many questions.

I decided to jump the gender gap, order myself a bowl, and look for some answers.

Kintaro - Cheese Ramen

The ramen isn’t as cheesy-tasting as I thought it’d be. This is odd because they actually put a ton of cheese in each bowl. Hidden beneath that large slice of cheese is another large pile of grated cheese. I’m not sure what type of cheese Kintaro uses – the menu says they use 2 different kinds – but it’s similar to the type you’ll find in most French onion soups. The cheese isn’t overpowering and plays nicely with the slightly salty, slightly sweet miso soup broth.

Kintaro - Cheese Ramen

I’m not crazy about the texture though. The cheese masks the nice al dente texture of the noodles. The first few bites are really good, but the way the cheese clumps the noodles together makes the meal feel very heavy.  A bowl of Kintaro ramen is filling enough as it is; this pushes it over the top.

With that said, I still think this is worth trying. It’s just too bizarre not to.

I really wanted to lo-o-o-ve this as much as those after-school/late-night bowls of noodles I used to eat. Damn you Y chromosome!

Kintaro Ramen on Urbanspoon

Kintaro – The Best Ramen in Town

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.

Kintaro Ramen

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.

Kintaro Ramen

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.

Kintaro Ramen

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.

Kintaro Ramen

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 Ramen

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.

Kintaro Ramen

Daniel threw down a perfect score recently.
I’m gonna have to do the same tonight.

Kintaro gets a 9 out of 9.

Kintaro Ramen on Urbanspoon

Motomachi Shokudo – Kintaro’s Hot Cousin

Although we’ve never blogged it, Kintaro is one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver (actually, my favorite). There’s nothing like a fresh bowl of homemade, affordable, and authentic Japanese ramen. Judging by the long lines that pile up outside the restaurant every single fricking night, it seems many Vancouverites agree with me. They’re certainly not there for Kintaro’s decor – it’s cramp and totally blah.

On this night, the Kintaro line was just too long and my stomach was just too empty. I couldn’t wait. On the recommendation of a Kintaro waitress, I decided to check out the new ramen joint a few meters adjacent to the legendary Kintaro. Why would she recommend it? Probably because they’re both owned by the same chef Daiji Matsubara..

Motomachi Shokudo

Why hello Motomachi Shokudo. You’re posh, sexy, and speak with a French accent – but can you cook me a big bowl of super satisfying ramen like your cousin Kintaro?

Motomachi ShokudoYou’re certainly prettier than your cousin. Your warm wooden walls are more soothing than Kintaro’s lime green painted walls. Your tree stump tables are more intimate than Kintaro’s bargain bin IKEA crap. And your rectangular communal table, wrapped around a cool wheat garden, is certainly more inviting than Kintaro’s big ugly group table. I even like the classical music playing – it suits you.

Motomachi ShokudoBut how’s your ramen? Your prices are about $1-$2 more than Kintaro (~$10 for a bowl of ramen). You have a pretty face, but can you impress where it really counts?

Yes, Motomachi Shokudo serves up excellent ramen. The noodles are chewy. The broth is full of flavor, albeit not as fatty as Kintaro’s. And the toppings are fantastic: fresh vegetables and meat sporting sharp grill marks – won’t find that next door.

Motomachi Shokudo

Affordable, tasty, and authentic food.
Soothing, warm, and intimate decor.
Fast and friendly service.

No longer will Motomachi Shokudo be thought of as a ramen backup plan. I’d go here even if there wasn’t a line up next door.

Motomachi Shokudo

Don’t worry Kintaro. There’s nothing like a hot bowl of ramen on a rainy night – it’s the perfect Vancouver meal. There will be plenty of nights of ramen. I’ll have time for both you and Motomachi Shokudo, promise.

Motomachi Shokudo on Urbanspoon

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