Santouka: Motomachi’s neighbor has a global ramen presence with longstanding roots in Japan’s northern island Hokkaido (where the first store modestly set up shop in 1988) and now a well-established franchise with numerous outposts throughout Tokyo, Kyoto, Hong Kong and select parts of the US.
Vancouver-ites gravitate to Santouka for a number of reasons including fatter noodles cooked al dente just right and their signature shio ramen with creamy broth.
But most meat lovers are here for the toroniku ramen with pork jowl (aka – pork cheek). The meat is so tender it is like cutting through mashed potatoes when you take a knife or fork to it. The thinly sliced meat is so flavorful some food enthusiasts have likened it to the same elation they feel when consuming fatty tuna.
- The pork jowl and toppings are served on a seprate plate to prevent the meat from overcooking
Go here if:
- You are a meat lover. The pork jowl is off the hook.
- You like a high noodle to broth ratio.
- You don’t mind a little bit of decadence, but you don’t have time to take a huge siesta afterwards.
Kintaro: This is where I go if I am in the mood for rich and salty and have blocked out my calendar afterwards for a 2-hour nap. Eating here always triggers severe food coma. For you more health conscious people, Kintaro offers a medium and light broth with your choice of meat (fat or lean), but I say why bother. The heavy broth and fatty meat combination is the tastiest and clearly their specialty.
In the past few years, ramen competitors have opened up more hip and welcoming interiors, but what Kintaro lacks in ambiance they match with gut-bombing gluttony: Thick pork slices outlined with a thick border of fat and their infamous option of topping your dish with a swiss and mozarella cheese combination. Personally, I think cheese has no business being on a Japanese noodle dish, but staff claim the ladies love it! I guess my gluttonous self is un-lady like. That’s cool.
Address: 788 Denman Street.
This is for you if:
- You want to be where the action is. Kintaro’s kitchen is in plain sight view and grabbing a seat at the counter will give you the chance to watch them assemble your ramen dish
- You like kicking it old school. Unlike Motomachi and Santouka’s hip interiors, Kintaro has a divier and more dated vibe.
- You are ok with feeling really full after eating.