What is ramen? For those of you, that don’t know or have yet to try it. Simply put, ramen is an oriental dish made of quick cooking noodles served in a broth (pork, chicken, veggie, etc.) with or without vegetables. It doesn’t sound so intimidating now does it? It’s soup.
Descriptively, this is a non-intimidating dish but when it comes down the ordering process I tend to feel a little scattered as a lot of it is foreign to me. I’m a frequent ramen restaurant goer but I stick to my tried and true dish. Classic ramen – no fuss. There are nearly 40 known ramen restaurants in downtown Vancouver with multiple locations scattered throughout each neighborhood, all with their own take on ramen.
This week I had the pleasure of trying out Koika Ramen for the first time. What made this tasting experience so great was that I didn’t need to choose what I was ordering. If it was up to me, I’d go with a classic, but we had the opportunity to try 9 of their menu items. 8 of these menu items would be dishes that I would not order myself, as I wouldn’t know what they are! After having them and realizing how delicious they are, I don’t know why I haven’t in the past. It’s time for me to branch out my ramen wings and try more menu items.
Koika Ramen isn’t like the typical Ramen restaurants I’ve been to. They’re on the cutting edge of Ramen cuisine with the ability to mix it up. Banker turned Owner and Head Chef, Caleb Lee likes to experiment with the classic dishes. From adding smoky flavours to creating spice flavours level 1-4 that will grant your face on the wall for completion. Using Italian influence, they have created a Ramen pasta dish that is basically noodles and cheese (IT’S AMAZING). As opposed to many other restaurants, Koika Ramen creates fresh noodles every morning in-house at 4am. Now that’s dedication to flavour!
Take a look below to see what we ate! Not photographed: Takoyaki, Gyoza (veggie and pork) and Orange Bowl.
Not photographed: Takoyaki – Deep fried flour balls with octupus chunks. Gyoza – homemade pork or veggie filled dumplings. Orange Bowl – Masago, furigake, green onion, wasabi mayo and soy sauce on top of steamed rice.
Humble Prince Ramen – cabbage, mushroom, spring onion, green onion, black tree fungus, red pepper, green pepper, stir-fried shredded pork in a chicken broth base.
Kakuni – Pork belly stewed in a Koika special shoyu sauce with machala wine sauce on top.
King’s Ramen – carrot, cabbage, mushroom, green onion, bean sprouts, shredded pork, seaweed, bamboo shoot, served with a soft boiled egg.
Monte Cristo Cheese Gratin – Homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese mix, fresh basil with stir fried ramen noodles.
Chiba Black Ramen – Bamboo shoot, roasted seaweed, soft boiled egg, cha-shu, black tree fungus, green onion, garlic chip, with black garlic oil
Chicken Tomago Ramen – Two soft boiled eggs, garlic chip, bamboo shoot, black tree fungus, and cha-shu topped with green onion.