Hungry girl’s guide: Ramen Santouka

I realized I get, well, hungry… a lot, and my adventurous stomach often guide my feet to interesting food places that I want to share with you.  Remember, my stomach guides my adventure, so I can’t tell you why I end up where I do.  Most of the time by convenience and sometimes it is because I remember I wanted to try a certain place.

Ramen Santouka - Exterior - Vancouver

Ramen Santouka – Exterior

Santouka was on my list of places to try, only because I am a HUGE ramen fan.  Fancy ramen, instant ramen, ramen in a cup, ramen in a Styrofoam bowl… doesn’t matter, I eat it all.  Santouka was out of commission for a while due to “mechanical problems” so I was pleased when I heard they re-opened.  I made the special effort to walk from the Dragon Boat festival to Santouka.  It is a quaint tiny little place near the end of Robson; if you blink you might miss it.  Today though it was hard to miss as there was a small waiting line to get in, now I am not much for line up because I am impatient about getting at my food (hence hungry girl’s guide).  But I made an exception today, also because I had a few grilled Korean BBQ from Jang Mo Jib at Dragon Boat festival.

Ramen Santouka - interior - Vancouver

Ramen Santouka – Interior

It is tiny inside but they made good use of the space with a large communal table at the front and strategically placed table line the narrow back of the store.  Decor was simple and pleasing with jazz music playing in the background.  Took us only 10 minutes to get seated so it was not bad at all, Hungry Girl approves!  Curiously, there was a small section of the menu that serves limited quantity of very special simmered pork jowl – this might not sound delicious but it is the kind of meat that literally melts in your mouth.  I decided against the limited quantity items as I just wanted to see how their usual regular ramen measure up to other ramen restaurants that is only a block from them. I got Kara Miso Ramen, which is a pork broth seasoned with hot spices and miso.  My dinner companion got Shio Ramen combo with grilled salmon on rice and a small dish with hard-boiled egg and some purply pickled veggie.  The ramen was DELICIOUS!!!  The broth was good but it wasn’t anything unusual for me, what stood out was the noodle and the char shiu.  The noodle had the perfect amount of chewiness and the char shiu was melt in your mouth tasty.

Ramen Santouka - Kira Miso Ramen

Ramen Santouka – Kira Miso Ramen

Ramen Santouka - Shio Ramen combo with Grilled Salmon on Rice, Boiled Egg + Pickled Veggie

Ramen Santouka – Shio Ramen combo with Grilled Salmon on Rice

Ramen Santouka - Chewy Ramen Noodle Goodness

Ramen Santouka – Chewy Ramen Noodle Goodness

The excellence of a restaurant is in the details and Santouka is amazingly meticulous. Now between taking breaks from my oodles of noodle delight and trying to finish this super filled bowl of hearty broth, I was extra pleased with this amazing spoon that you can hang up on the side of the bowl!  Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?  Lost spoon to full deep brothy bowls will never happen again.  Ingenious I say! My order of Coke came with an ice cold cup with tiny little ice cubes, I have never had any restaurant pay so much attention to my pop order.

Ramen Santouka - Amazing hanging spoon efficiency

Ramen Santouka – Amazing hanging spoon efficiency

Ramen Santouka - Ice cold Coke cup - Vancouver

Ramen Santouka – Ice cold Coke cup

I shared the extra side dishes that came with my companion’s combo, alright correction… I launched at his bowl of grilled salmon on rice before an invitation was offered.   The grilled salmon was amazing!  It was salty and had a slight smoky taste to it so it went well with the sticky Japanese rice with flakes of seaweed on top.  I didn’t care much for the hardboiled egg and the pickled veggies, I had a bite but it wasn’t anything special.

Ramen Santouka - Grilled Salmon on Rice

Ramen Santouka – Grilled Salmon on Rice

Ramen Santouka - Boiled egg + purple pickled friend

Ramen Santouka – Boiled egg + purple pickled friend

The food was plenty and the bill was very reasonable.  Warning: Once you finish eating… the tiny hill to get back to Robson Street seems like an uphill climb up a mountain.

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