Sherman's Food Adventures: Kokoro Toyko Mazesoba (Brentwood)

Kokoro Toyko Mazesoba (Brentwood)

It has been nearly 5 years since I tried the original location of Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba in Downtown Vancouver.  For those who do not know, they specialize in mixed noodles without soup.  Sure, they have ramen on the menu, but that is not their main thing.  Rather, they have a selection of noodles with various toppings.  Once you are finished, they offer you a bowl of rice to sop up the remaining "sauce".  Spoiler alert, we didn't do that this time around.

So to start, we got the large order of the Chicken Karaage served with spicy mayo and tangy mayo.  This came out piping hot and glistening.  Hence, the exterior was uniformly crispy and in certain parts, rather crunchy.  The dark chicken meat was juicy and naturally tender.  We found the chicken to be sufficiently tender but a bit of lemon and the dips helped add more pop.  For me, I enjoyed the spicy mayo more as it added some sweet kick.

We also got the 10-Piece Pork Gyoza, which was served in a cast iron pan (but not the one they prepared it in).  As you can see, there was a nice sear on the bottom and an accompanying skirt too.  The result was a smoky and nutty crunch that wasn't overly greasy.  The dumpling wrapper was fairly thin and al dente.  Inside, the pork filling was mixed with plenty of veg and green onion while being juicy and flavourful.

For myself, I had the Zenbu Mazesoba featuring slow braised pork chashu, spicy minced pork, soft boiled egg, seaweed, bamboo shoot, seaweed flakes, egg yolk, chives, green onion, minced garlic, ground saba, and house-made multi-grain noodle.  Yes, this had everything but the kitchen sink.  The result was a rather fulfilling bowl of noodles that had the meatiness from both types of pork as well as the "green" taste of the chives and green onion.  I had to pick out some of that because it was a lot.  The raw garlic really came through (and lingered) while the ground fish provided brininess.  Noodles were chewy, but in a good way.

For my son, he ordered the Salmon Avocado Mazesoba with spinach, seaweed flakes, ground saba, minced garlic and egg yolk (he omitted the green onions).  His first remark was that it was a bit weird with warm noodles and cold salmon.  Now I've had cold and hot in the same dish before and they do work.  In this case, I was on the fence.  Maybe a completely cold noodle might've been better.  Otherwise, it was good with similar flavours as the Zenbu except no pork and less green-tasting.

For my mom, she had the Mentaiko Cream Mazesoba with slow braised pork chashu, seaweed flakes, green onion, minced garlic, ground saba, spinach, egg yolk and mentaiko.  Naturally, this was a briny-tasting concoction while creamy (just as its name suggests).  Noodles were al dente and ate much like a mentaiko udon except with some meatiness from the pork.

My dad wasn't very hungry so he got a Mince Bowl which was essentially rice with spicy minced pork with an egg yolk and green onions.  This ate very similarly to the Taiwanese dish Lo Rou Fan except without pork belly.  This had a good spice and meatiness while the egg yolk added a creamy silkiness.  The rice itself was not too soft or wet, so it was the right vessel for mixing with the minced pork.

My daughter had exactly what she had last time in the Tomato Tonkotsu Ramen with slow- braised pork chashu, ramen egg, green onion, garlic, baby corn, dried red pepper, bamboo shoot, bell pepper, kabocha, cherry tomato and black fungus.  Yes, the list of ingredients make it sound like a lot, but it was only like one piece of each.  The broth was thick and creamy with good tomato essence.  The thin noodle remained al dente even though it sat in the broth for awhile.  I think this tastes really good, but the broth is really rich and I don't think I could drink all of it.

Of course we couldn't get out of there without their Hokkaido Creme Cup complete with a plastic shovel.  Actually we wanted the cone, but this is the second strike-out for us as they didn't have it again!  No matter, the creamy and rice ice cream was super milky and delicious.  Sure it was sweet, but in a milky way.  It is a lot more than it looks, best to share with someone, unless you really want it all to yourself.  Overall, the dry noodles at Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba is good, but personally, I prefer classic soup ramen more.  But it is something different and there is many choices to be had.  Love that ice cream though!

The Good:
- A bit different than regular soup ramen
- Excellent service
- That ice cream!

The Bad:
- It looks like a lot, but it really isn't that filling, unless you get the complimentary rice


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