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

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Viet Sub on Robson

Viet SubI look forward to lunch so much sometimes that I wonder if I go to work just for the lunch. I’m sure anyone who toil away in an office for over 1/3 of their waking hours can relate. But depressing statistics aside, the lunch breaks at work have been a pretty fun affair. We have a regular group happily venturing out everyday (‘happily’ only on non-raining days) and have a sizeable rotation (of which I’ve meant to blog) of restaurants we go to to keep things fresh.
Viet Sub on Robson is one place we’ve been going to for a while now.

These guys makes some great subs toasted and rolled in front of your eyes.
Viet Sub

The special sub is the well rounded choice I usually go for, but they also have some good pho noodle soups. The ingredients are typical to viet style subs, and the taste is exceptional. Fast, cheap ($~4/sub) and friendly.
Viet Sub Menu
There’s a specials board on the wall behind the door with more menu items(I haven’t seen anything move from either menus though).
Viet Sub

There’s almost 0 seating capacity in here, so its take out preferred. Which is great, because there’s a new Beard Papa’s right next door you can go to get a cream puff for dessert. Perfect combo.

Viet Sub Vietnamese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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Bon Crepe – Japanese Crepes on Robson

Still hungry after that bowl of ramen at Kintaro/Motomachi/Benkei? Looking for the perfect complement for that Japadog you ate on Burrard? Need a quick, affordable, and tasty snack while strolling around Robson Street? Cafe Crepe really sucks and this sentence isn’t even a question?

Bon Crepe

The answer to those questions might just be a delicious Japanese crepe from Bon Crepe.

Bon Crepe is located inside the Konbiniya Japanese convenience store @ 1238 Robson Street. If you have trouble finding Konbiniya, look for a store on the south side of Robson that has giant suspended Pocky boxes, a prominent “WE ® JAPAN!” sign, and a large facade that’s half Pikachu, half Geisha. Look closely – it’s totally subtle. Konbiniya is worth a blog post of its own as it offers authentic Japanese pre-made meals, countless varieties of Pocky, Japanese DVDs and karaoke, and Shiatsu massages (what?). But this post is about Bon Crepe, which is accessible from inside Konbiniya or from the outside through their takeout window.

Bon Crepe’s got both savory and sweet crepes on their menu.
Here’s their  #10 – Strawberry Chocolate Whip Topping crepe ($4.05) – fresh and light!

Bon Crepe

Japanese crepes are similar to the French-style crepes most people are familiar with. There are a few differences. Japanese crepes are made with less butter and tend to be less crispy. In Bon Crepe’s case, the crepe batter contains glutinous rice – which gives the crepe a distinctive and self-described “mochi-mochi” texture (mochi means Japanese rice cake); these crepes are chewier and more spongy than French-style ones.

Bon Crepe

French crepes generally contain cooked fillings like caramelized apples. Japanese crepes, on the other hand, contain uncooked fillings like fresh strawberries. In addition to normal crepe fillings like nutella, banana, and strawberries, Bon Crepe also has funkier fillings like red bean, condensed milk, homemade cheesecake, and homemade pudding.

Lastly, their crepes are wrapped in a cone shape. Not only does this shape ensure that each bite nets a mouthful of crepe, it’s also super convenient. Easy to hold, you can munch on these crepes while you shop on Robson. Or while you walk your dog.

Here’s #40 – Banana Nutella Whip Topping ($4.05) – classic.

Bon Crepe

As you would expect, these crepes are fresh and made to order. Every time I go to Bon Crepe, the same polite Japanese man makes my crepe. You can even ask him to make you a customized, mash-up crepe if you so wish.

Do check out Bon Crepe next time you’re on Robson. You won’t be disssapointed.

Bon Crepe on Urbanspoon

Ezogiku Noodle Cafe – The magic is gone

Ezogiku Ramen on RobsonEzogiku is one of the first ramen joints planted in downtown Vancouver (they’ve planted a few more around the world since) and also where I had my first taste of ramen over a decade ago. I do vaguely recall a few things that made an impression on me during that one faithful lunch time visit though. The line up was long, the seats were cramped, the bowl was large (too large for me to finish), the soup was incredible and tastier than anything I’ve slurped before, but what’s up with all the veggies?

It’s been a few years since I’ve been back. The location is still the same, the seats still cramped, the bowl has shrunk (though still bigger than Benkei), the soup isn’t as good as I remember, but what’s up with all the veggies?

Compared to its neighbors further down the street, Ezogiku’s miso ramen can almost be considered a healthy meal with its marked absence of animal fats, oils, butter, and extra helping of cabbage. The lone piece of charsiu looks like garnish, and the taste doesn’t reveal otherwise. While chewing on the cabbage I was strained to find redeeming qualities that might justify a return visit (its the closest ramen shop to the office). Next time around I’d probably add butter ($0.85 option here) to make the soup more interesting, and take out the cabbage.

Ezogiku Ramen on Robson

Anyone else remember their first bowl of ramen they’d like to share?
Ezogiku Noodle Cafe on Urbanspoon

Benkei Ramen – Competition is good for everyone

Kintaro is the Vancouver standard for ramen. Ruling the egg noodle in rich broth kingdom with one hot cousin by its side. If you had the bonitos to challenge that authority by opening up another ramen shop on the same street block, what might you do to avoid a quick and shameful death?
Make a good bowl of noodle and address the gripes about the current reigning king of course. Atmosphere, seating, cleanliness, wait times, and to some extent, price. Benkei is easy on the eyes from the get go
Benkei Ramen
With a brightly lit facade, dressed up decor, adequate seating (not comfortable, just adequate), and no line of hungry customers spilling onto the sidewalk on a Friday night, its more welcoming than the royal ramen family around the corner. All of that is simply plate garnish however, as what really matters is the food.
Benkei Ramen - MenuThree familiar types of soups are offered, with toppings as optional add-ons. This brings the price of the basic soup + noodle + 2 (mingy) pieces of pork chashu + green onion + bean sprouts down close to $7. We ordered a chashu plate, which resembles a more tender, thicker, fatter, less seasoned versions of the Chinese charsiu. Whether its better or worse than Kintaro’s is a matter of personal preference. I like the flavor of Benkei’s but does it have to be so tiny…
Benkei Ramen - Chashu platter
Their Shio “heavy tonkotsu” ramen is advertised to be popular with the ladies. Though I think it’ll appeal to anyone who’s looking for a rich and very meaty tasting broth that suspends a lot of flavor around slippery noodles.
Benkei Ramen - Tonkotsu Shio
We also had the Miso ramen, which in my opinion is even heavier than the Shio tonkotsu soup with a quarter inch of clear oil floating at the top of the bowl. Combined with the extra salty miso, any depth of flavor (if there were much) were covered up. Also, the portions were a bit smaller than Kintaro’s.

A good hearty meal, but Benkei still doesn’t beat out Kintaro or Motomachi Shokudo for ramen. It does offer some healthy competition that ensures everyone is playing their A game, which I hope someday will spread beyond the Robson & Denman block.

Benkei 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

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