As if we need another ramen joint out on Robson, I got a warning from Bear that this was indeed the case. Warning? An ominous sign... Hidden inside Robson Market is the newest entry into "Ramen Central". Unlike the existing establishments, Hida Takayama Ramen is not an actual storefront. It resides in the dead fair... er... I mean food fair. Originally, I was going to quickly pay the place a visit since I was going to be in Downtown already. However, Kim was planning to visit the place in a few days and by coincidence, I had a conference in Downtown at the same time. Seems like we could try it out together. Why not? More variety. Who wouldn't like that?
So during my lunch break, I made my way down to lower Robson. I spotted Kim and he looked like a total mess. Well, I guess messier than usual. Looks like the flu has hit him hard. Nothing like a big bowl of hot ramen to improve the situation! We ended up with 2 bowls of ramen and a couple of other items. Starting with the Natural Salt Ramen, the first thing that we noticed was the light broth and plethora of pork. One sip of the broth and I was immediately overwhelmed by salt. Sure, it's Shio and naturally it should taste salty. But really, that is all that I could taste. No meat flavour, no richness or other discernible taste. In fact, the noodles themselves were salty as well. As much as it is a possibility that the salty broth had penetrated the noodles, it didn't seem plausible in the short amount of time before we dug in. It was as if they cooked the noodles in heavy saltwater. In terms of the texture, it wasn't bad. It was a bit chewy, not overly so; but at the very least it wasn't soft. As mentioned, there was plenty of pork. It appears that they used the pork chop minus the bone. Very meaty. Possibly a bit too lean; hence it was somewhat of a chew in spots. As for the Miso Ramen, it was much of the same. In fact, with a generous amount of miso, it was quite overwhelming to the point that it was too strong. Curiously, there was an absence of additional ingredients such as corn, ajitama egg and so on.
We ended up with an order of Gyoza as well and it really was hit and miss. The dumpling wrapper was thin and easy to eat; however, the filling itself was too loose and bland. The last item was the Pork Bun. From the outside, it looked very much like a Chinese bun and in some ways it was. When I tried to remove the paper from the bun, it ripped off the entire bottom, revealing a soggy mess. The filling was much too wet, resulting in a unappealing texture. Man, this is a tough one. I can see that this is a family-run operation and they are honest people. However, the food is just not up to par, especially with so many great ramen shops within walking distance. It is unfortunate that Hida Takayama is smack dab in the middle of Kintaro, Benkei, Santouka, Motomochi and Sanpachi. There is a lot to live up to. In this case it didn't and unless some changes are made, I'm not sure how they can compete.
- There is a generous amount of pork
- It's quick since you don't have to lineup for a seat
- They're really friendly
- Broth is one-dimensional
- Noodles are salty?
- It is not really cheaper than its competitors