It seems like writing have taken over my life as of late. Reports, essays, letters and emails, you name it, I wrote it. I was pumping out thousands of words a day and I was sick and tired of writing for a while. Every time I looked at my keyboard I felt sick. That’s the reason why this post has been delayed for a week. Anyways, I digress. This week’s post is gonna feature, in my honest opinion, the best ramen shop in the GVRD named Hokkaido Ramen Santouka.CL and I visited Santouka a couple weeks ago because CL was not a fan of ramen and I was attempting to convert her. Santouka is a Japanese chain restaurant that specializes in Hokkaido style ramen. It opened it’s doors on Robson not too long ago and has been the talk of the town ever since. I’m a frequent customer of Kintaro Ramen, which is just a block away from Santouka, but I wanted to try something new.
Despite the relatively warm weather, CL and I made the trek out to Robson one day after work. We were pleasantly surprised at the short line because usually this place has a line up half way up the block. We were seated within 10 minutes and one look at the menu I spotted what I came for, the Toroniku Shio (sea salt) Ramen. Toroniku is the meat from the cheeks of the pig. It is extremely marbled, tender and full of that delicious porky flavour. Many of my friends have been recommending this item and I’ve been dying to try it out. CL went for something more traditional and ordered the regular Shoyu (soy sauce) Ramen.
The Toroniku and other ingredients arrived separate from the noodles for reasons I can not understand. One look at the broth and I could already tell that this was no ordinary ramen. The broth exhibited a milky white color, which is only obtainable when simmered for hours (even days). It tasted so rich that it was almost creamy. Combined with the al dente noodles, it was a beautiful combination of flavour and texture. Compared to the wonderful ramen, the pork cheeks were a little less spectacular. Don’t get me wrong, it was very flavourful and melted in my mouth, but the only flaw was the seasoning on the meat. It was so aggressively seasoned that it was almost as salty as beef jerky. For a price of $14.95, I don’t think I would order this particular ramen again.
CL’s shoyu ramen was very good as well. The shoyu broth had a very light soy flavour and was noticeably lighter than my shio broth. The noodles were perfectly al dente once again and the cha shu (slow cooked fatty pork) was tender and seasoned beautifully, unlike the toroniku.
Our meal at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka was pretty good overall. I don’t think I’ve converted CL to a ramen lover, but at least she doesn’t mind it as much now. The shio broth and noodles were the best I’ve ever had and the toroniku is something other ramen shops doesn’t offer. But in my opinion, it is not worth the 15 dollar price tag, even if the pork was seasoned better. At $9.95, the regular ramens with cha shu has great value compared to the toroniku and is a much better choice. I can’t wait to come back on a cold day and have a bowl of shio ramen.