Kintaro "Miso Ramen"

Brand: Kintaro
Flavour: Miso Ramen
Format: ceramic bowl
Packets: zero
Identifiables: noodles, pork, veggies, miso soup
Sodium: unknown

My friend Steve called me up last week. "How are you for some noodle tourism?" he asked. Noodle tourism? The next thing I knew, I found myself in Vancouver's West End in a little ramen restaurant called "Kintaro".

Now, I live near Seattle. Going up to Vancouver isn't terribly difficult. Still, there's a certain magic to crossing country lines just to get a good noodle, and the idea of reviewing ramen that hadn't come from a packet was too amusing for me to pass up. Thus, armed with camera and much hunger, I approached a Japanese-style ramen restaurant.

There was a brief line to get a seat. While I stood, I snapped a photo of the open kitchen. I saw all manner of things being cooked in giant drums, and I smelled all manner of delightful smells. A feeling came over me of wonder and amazement. Those instant noodles I'd been reviewing all these months... many of them were attempts to replicate this environment, this food. Just how would they stack up, now that I would have a reference point?

Once seated, I recieved a simple one-page laminated menu. There were many choices, but I had to follow through on the simplest thing there; miso ramen. The only choices were how thick I wanted the broth (I went with medium) and whether I wanted fatty or lean pork (I went with fatty, the flavour's well worth it). I sipped at water and waited.

In short order I recieved an absolutely massive bowl of rich-smelling miso ramen. The noodles were completely obscured beneath a mound of bean sprouts, sweet corn, green onion pieces, and a five-centimetre disc of half-centimetre-thick barbecued pork. I snapped a photo – admittedly, I was slightly self-conscious about carefully photographing my food before digging in – and then set to eating.

The noodles were just the right texture, I felt, though long enough that it took real effort to slurp them up. The veggies were crisp and of decent quality. The barbecued pork was very tasty, and made its presence known throughout the bowl. The miso broth was quite rich, leading me to wonder about what the "heavy" broth would be like. The most surprising aspect of the meal, though, was the sheer size of it. I went in hungry, and while I did manage to get most of the noodles, there was still quite a bit of broth and other bits left when I had hid my limit.

Now, this isn't an inexpensive proposition, compared to the average instant noodle bowl. It cost, as I recall, 7.75 Canadian dollars (6.25 U.S. dollars) – I certainly should have written it down, yes? Most of the bowls I've had cost anywhere from one to three U.S. dollars. It can be worth the money to get the fresh ingredients and the sheer size of the bowl, but it's also nowhere neat instant. It may be prepared for you, but I've never had to wait more than six minutes for instant! (That's why "packaging" is a five, but "prepearation" is a one; I had to go to Canada to get the stuff, but I didn't have to clean anything up afterwards!)

The verdict? I would definitely go again and try another dish, but I wouldn't call the brick-in-packet phenomenon lost at all.

Numbers: packaging 5, preparation 1, heat 1, flavour 4, overall 4
Music: I don't recall that there was any, but it was a bit loud in there....

1 comment:

PatGund@gmail.com said...

There's a really good all-you-can eat sushi place in Vancouver Metrotown as well.

And here in Seattle, there is the VERY good Samurai Noodle over in the International District. :-)