Sherman's Food Adventures: Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba

Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba

What?  Another ramen joint???  Yes, this is yet again another blog post on a new ramen restaurant opening up in Downtown Vancouver.  But wait a minute.  There are a few things different about this place.  First of all, it isn't located on and around Robson Street.  Second, it features a spacious dining space with an indoor waiting area (no lining up outside in the cold!).  Third and more importantly, it serves up mazesoba or translated as "mixed noodle" without soup.  Yes, they still have the regular soup ramen, but their calling card is the mazesoba and their Hokkaido creme cone.  Although I hate lining up for anything, we decided to do so and try out this soupless ramen...

After a 35-minute wait, we proceeded to order 2 each of the mazesoba and regular soup ramen.  Viv went for the Niku Mazesoba featuring made in-house multi-grain soba, slow-braised chashu, spicy minced pork, raw egg yolk, green onion, seaweed flakes, chives, minced garlic and ground saba fish.  As much as I wanted to write this off as a gimmick or fad, this combination of ingredients with the al dente soba was truly delicious.  There was a certain spiciness combined with the meatiness of the pork as well as the unmistakeable flavour of nori.  The silkiness of the egg yolk made for a creamy and silky texture as well.  She decided to make hers a combo by adding a 3-piece order of Chicken Karaage with spicy mayo.  Although the karaage looked appealing being golden brown, the batter was doughy and undercooked on the inside.  It was lightly crispy on the outside, but the doughiness killed the dish.  The chicken was juicy and tender though.

For myself, I chose the Mentaiko Cream with house-made multi-grain soba, spinach, slow braised chashu, minced garlic, gound saba fish, seaweed flakes, raw egg yolk and spicy cod roe (I omitted the green onions).  This one was similar-tasting except with a more pronounced fishiness from the roe combined with the saba.  For some, the brininess could be a bit much (Viv preferred hers over mine), but I personally loved it and this was right up my alley.  Again, the egg yolk helped everything adhere to each strand of chewy soba.  To add even more punch, I used the provided vinegar and chili flakes at the table.  This added a kick as well as some tang.  After I was done, the remaining sauce was not to be wasted.  One could as for a bowl of rice (at no extra charge) to mix into it.  Imagine how tasty that was!  Yes, I enjoyed that as much as the noodles.

For the kiddies, they didn't stray far from their favourites and stuck with the traditional soup ramen.  My son had the Tonkotsu Ramen with wood ear mushroom, chashu and soft yolk egg (he also omitted the green onions).  As you can see in the picture, the soup was pretty cloudy.  In fact, it was downright creamy and porky.  I personally prefer my broth to be more on the lighter side, but this was still fairly tasty and impactful.  There was an ample amount of tender thin noodles (could've been more al dente) hidden within the broth.  Although the chashu was fatty, it was more on the meaty side (but was not chewy).  My daughter had the Tomato Tonkotsu with chashu, wood ear mushroom, corn, green onion, tomatoes and soft yolk egg.  This was essentially the same broth, but with tomato added.  Hence, it was aromatic and lightly tomatoey.  We preferred this over the regular tonkotsu.

To end the meal, it was our intention to try the Hokkaido Crème Cone, but they ran out, so we were stuck with the Hokkaido Crème Cup.  This was pretty rich and creamy with plenty of milk flavour.  In fact, it was so strong, my daughter didn't want to eat any.  Well, more for me then!  I liked it because it wasn't too sweet while being quite aromatic.  Good, but not something that I would necessarily order again.  So in the end, there was enough to differentiate Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba from the rest of the bunch.  Good thing too as many are merely blending into the scene.

The Good:
- Tasty mazesoba
- Spacious restaurant
- Quite a bit of choice

The Bad:
- Expensive
- Soup ramen is fine, but stick with the mazesoba


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