Santouka, Ramen Rapture in Vancouver

Santouka is the latest ramen house to open on lower Robson Street in Vancouver. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is a well-regarded Japanese chain with five outlets in California. This is their first Canadian enterprise.

Slowly simmered pork bones(tonkotsu) produces their stock in trade, resulting in a rich, pearl-coloured elixir that has a toasty aroma revealing notes of dried kelp and dried fish that are some of its other integral ingredients.
Six large stock pots are in various stages of simmering at Santouka, watched over by the resident chefs.

Ramen noodles imported from Japan are cooked to order in mini steam baskets set in boiling water. Set in signature blue bowls the noodles are worked by a chef to separate and mingle with the broth before serving.

I ordered the #12 Toroniku Shio Ramen of long cooked – up to 20 hours – pork cheeks presented on a plate with salted Japanese plum, bamboo shoots, fish cake, green onion and the chocolate-coloured wood ear fungus.

The pork cheeks with excellent fatty edges were akin to eating soft butter. It was so good I almost fell off my chair.
Add the ingredients to the amazing broth, slurp the perfectly cooked noodles. Taste and be seduced by the flavour complexities. Go directly to ramen heaven.
While some aficionados aren’t convinced of Santouka’s superior product, my experience was nothing short of an epiphany. (After all, I am from Vancouver Island, a far cry from ethnic diversity in the culinary department.)
I relish the idea of my future ramen adventures. One down, three more to go. Ramen here I come.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, 1690 Robson St., 604-681-8121 Open 11 am – 11 pm. (Cash only).


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