Here we go again. Another attempt at doing a ramen joint in Burnaby. We first had Kawawa Ramen, which is alright, but nothing special (not to be confused with Kawawa Restaurant). Then Miki Ramen came along and completely underwhelmed. Well, the fact that Miki is no longer open for business is an indication of their mediocrity. It really does seem like the only good ramen in town is found down on and around Robson Street. For me, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka still reigns supreme. However, we can never expect that quality in the burbs. So the next challenger is Hakkaku Ramen where Lalibela Ethiopian used to stand on Hastings at Willingdon. Joining me this ramen adventure was Karl, who was in the area.
The menu is simple here with 5 types of ramen to choose from: Miso, Shoyu, Shio, Curry and Spicy Miso. For the first 3, they could be had in a combo with either a Green Onion Don ($9.50) or with a Chashu Don ($10.50). For me, I went for the latter and chose the Shio Ramen. Much like Kintaro, there was a choice of lean chashu or pork belly. Furthermore, the broth could be had in fatty or non-fatty. Personally, you either go big or go home, I went for full fat on both. As you can clearly see, there were a significant amount of floaties in the broth. Despite this, the broth was thin and rather weak. A bunch of fat does not necessarily make the broth better. In fact, it was very watery. No silkiness or richness associated with a pork bone broth. Now for the supposed "pork belly", it looked much more like pork butt. Moreover, it wasn't melt-in-your-mouth quality, rather it was on the drier chewy side. I did like the noodles though, they were toothsome and perfectly portioned. The Chashu Don was completely forgettable. Other than the texturally sound rice, there was nothing else to be positive about. The chewy chashu was extremely salty. It was so salty, I could not taste anything else. Despite this, there wasn't any moisture to flavour and moisten the rice. So the whole bowl of food was chewy, dry and salty. Not good.
Karl went for something a bit different in the Curry Ramen. When it arrived, there was no mistaking the curry. We could see it and smell it. For me, the broth had plenty of curry flavour, yet it was still weak. No depth. Very watery. Once again, the noodles were al dente, yet the same dry piece of pork kinda brought the bowl down. And guess what? The same chashu was the downfall of the Chashu Burger as well. First off, the steamed mantou was fluffy and soft. However, the dry salty chashu didn't do anything for this "burger". If the predominant flavour is only salt, then you might as well just put anything in there and salt it. Couldn't even tell it was pork.
At the very least, the Gyoza were not bad. They were nicely crisped up on the bottom bordering on being burnt (which is better than pale). The dumpling skin was not thick while the filling was not gritty. Probably the only "good" thing we had. It's really too bad though. Hakkaku is probably the closest ramen joint to me, yet it is one of the more mediocre to poor places I've tried in town. I seriously hope they get their act together because if this is the best they have to offer, they might not last very long.
- Okay pricing
- Friendly staff
- Broth has no depth
- Chashu is super salty and dry