I’ll be first to admit that I was never a ramen fan until recently. I think it’s because I never had the opportunity to taste really good ramen until I tried the ramen from Ramen Santouka in San Jose, California this past summer. I liked their ramen so much that I wanted to have it again. As I mentioned in my previous post, Ramen Santouka is a famous Japanese Ramen chain. They have multiple locations in Japan as well as some locations in Hong Kong, Singapore, United States, and Canada. The only Canadian location is on Robson Street in Vancouver. Despite my frequent trips to Vancouver over the past few years, I still had not visited this Ramen Santouka location in Vancouver yet. Hence, I made it a point to go on this recent trip to Vancouver last month.
I had heard raves reviews about the Toroniku Ramen, which is ramen served with the special simmered pork jowl (cheek)/toroniku meat. This toroniku meat is hugely popular and only available in limited quantities. There are actually four variations to the Toroniku Ramen. In each variation, the toroniku meat is the same but the ramen broth is different. The four ramen broths available at Ramen Santouka are Shio (pork broth seasoned with salt), Shoyu (pork broth seasoned with soy sauce), Miso (pork broth seasoned with miso/fermented soy bean paste), and Kara Miso (pork broth seasoned with hot spices and miso). I decided to get the Toroniku Shio Ramen ($12.95), which came with the simmered pork jowl meat and the salt seasoned ramen.
For the Toroniku Ramen, the toppings are served on the side along with the sliced toroniku. For the Shio Ramen, the toppings included a pickled plum, some menma (bamboo shoots), some kikurage (jelly ear), a bit of diced scallions, and a slice of narutomaki, which is a Japanese cured fish product that has a pink swirl in the center. I loved the toroniku. This was my first time tasting pork cheek and it was not like anything I’ve ever tasted before. It was well-marbled, flavourful and melt-in-your-mouth tender. For all pork lovers, the toroniku is definitely a must-try item!
As much as I love spicy food, I purposely got the salt seasoned ramen because I wanted to taste the delicate nuances in the mild and creamy pork broth at least this once. Apparently, the pork broth at all the Ramen Santouka locations are made to exacting standards, which include simmering the pork bone and pork rib broth for two whole days before adding vegetables, dried fish, kelp, and other secret ingredients. Since I prefer my noodles al dente, I asked for the ramen noodles to be firm and they turned out perfectly toothsome. I like that they are willing to accommodate special requests and cook the noodles to the customer’s preference. The broth was rich, milky, and delicious. I was surprised despite the richness, it didn’t seem oily at all. I was really impressed with the delicate flavours of the broth. I liked it so much that I finished every last drop.
I was really impressed with this Toroniku Shio Ramen at Ramen Santouka. I realize that it’s a little pricey for a bowl of ramen but since I don’t get to have it often, I don’t mind splurging. I wish I was able to get ramen of this quality in Calgary. I’m looking forward to trying the Toroniku with the Kara Miso Ramen on my next trip to Vancouver.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
1690 Robson St