Not since the movie Tampopo has there been such a buzz about Japanese ramen (well, here at least). However, much like the movie, there is a level of artistry and skill when producing the broth. Sure, the noodles themselves have to be good and cooked al dente; but it's all about the soup. Bad soup = bad ramen. When I saw Jessica and Ben's post of Shoryumen out in the same parking lot as Tenku Bakudanyaki, I was very eager to give it a try. How eager? How about going there on my lunch break from North Delta all the way to Richmond and back within 50 minutes? Impossible? Ah, you don't know me very well. With food, the impossible becomes the very possible. Not many things stop me from eating. Well, except for a lineup or the owner-lady at Po Service (er... I mean Po King).
So I arrived just as they were opening up the ramen cart. Wait, lemme rephrase that: the one guy who runs the truck. Yup, he's busy making the noodles, taking orders, taking money and cleaning up. I was impressed. Since the Ton broth will not be available unti Feb 9th, I settled on the Aka, which is miso broth for $5.75. I added 4 toppings for another $3.00. The basic ramen includes seaweed, onions and cabbage/sprouts. I added wood ear mushrooms, miso egg, corn and pork. If you bring your own bowl (thus saving a styrofoam bowl), there is a 50 cent discount. I thought of bringing my own big bowl; but alas, I didn't. I haven't gotten to the level Ben is at yet (he brought his own plate to Tenku Bakudanyaki). The styrofoam bowl that I did receive was not any bigger than those Kimchi instant noodle bowls. But it was filled to the brim.
Of course, by virtue of being a cart, there is nowhere to sit. You stand and eat the noodles right there at the "bar". Since I was in a rush and there was no reason to linger, I downed my bowl in about 8 minutes. The fact that it was not really big helped me finish quickly. I liked the thin noodles, they were done al dente. The miso broth was quite decent. Lots of flavour and moderate depth. I would've preferred to try the ton broth. Maybe next time... The egg was okay, nothing wrong with it particularly; it's just that I would've preferred the Ajitama instead. The pork was the shredded cold variety and I had to soak it in the broth since it was cold. In some respects, I liked the bowl of ramen. It was enjoyable to eat. On the other hand, it was not cheap after I added the toppings. Not particularly the best value considering the portion size and location; but that didn't prevent me from liking it. Of course I can see this place doing quite well during the Olympics since it's practically a stones throw away from the speed skating oval. I'm sure many of the fans will prefer playing less than $10.00 for a decent meal rather than the overpriced concessions. For me, if I'm in the area again, I'd do it again.
And believe it or not, I visited it again in anticipation of trying the Ton broth to no avail (the day I posted this). They still didn't receive the ingredients from overseas. However, I got to try the Kuro Ramen (Shoyu). For my ramen today, I found it less flavourful and had less depth than the miso. There were 2 significant changes since last time. First, there is another person there taking orders, which frees up the original guy to concentrate on preparing the ramen. Second, the egg was similar to a soft poached egg. Third, the bowl is now significantly bigger. Now, they are eco-friendly being 100% biodegradable. Therefore, the portion size has increased as well. I would say there is more broth and toppings now. Not sure about any more noodles.
- If you're conservative with the toppings, it's fairly cheap (now with bigger bowl)
- Noodles and broth are decent
- It's got that stange location, interesting concept attraction
- Portions are quite small
- If you go nuts with the toppings, it's actually pricey ($8.75)
- Well, you have to stand there or go to your car to eat it