The Ramen Butcher, Chinatown

Coming from Australia, one of the things that Sydney does really really well, of late, at least, is ramen. I’m not sure what started it, but roughly…six or seven years ago there was a huge uptick in truly authentic ramen places like Gumshara, O-san, Ikkyu etc. This has given us a true appreciation for good ramen, and also maybe a bit of an addiction too! As with any food addiction, you can never truly have enough, so when we realised that Vancouver is pretty into ramen as well, well lets just say that we were both super super excited.

So recently as we were walking around Chinatown, we saw an admittedly very retro looking ramen shop called The Ramen Butcher. The Ramen Butcher proudly calls themselves “The best ramen in Vancouver” and have a very oriental pig as their mascot. Their store fit out is pretty classic hipster but with pigs everywhere – think chalkboards with pigs anatomies on it, bronze pig statues, and giant letters spelling RAMEN, so if that’s something you enjoy, then you’re probably already buzzing about this place.

The menu at The Ramen Butcher is quite basic, but in that real Japanese/new age kind of way, with everything fitting on one page. There are nine different ramens in total, with a choice of either tonkotsu (pork), tsukemen (pork and fish), shoyu (pork, chicken and fish), chicken and vegetarian. There are also just a few sides including karaage and gyoza. The gyoza comes in a variety of flavours including okonomi and truffle! You can also add toppings to your ramen for a small fee, like extra slices of chashu for $2, medium-boiled egg for $1.50 or even more basic things like extra corn or spring onions. Finally, you can get your ramen in a set with either a salad or a mini don and a side.

 

Here is the Classic tonkotsu ramen ($10.25) which was something we felt we had to try if we were being serious about checking this place out. One thing I need to give a particular shout-out to is the amount of customisation you can do here at The Ramen Butcher. Outside of the traditional extra meat and noodles options, The Ramen Butcher lets you choose between super fatty or lean pork slices in your ramen, as well as thick or thin noodles. I of course went for the fattiest piece available because well…if someone offered you a lift to flavour country, would you not take it? It just seems rude.

Outside of that I also opted for the ajitama (medium-boiled egg) for $1.50 and ended up with the bowl you see above. First things first, this is a great bowl of ramen that matches up as well as anything I’ve ever had before, including in Japan. The pork broth is flavourful and milky whilst still being watery enough to be called a broth – I’ve had ramen broth in the past that I’d describe as more of a gravy, it was just so thick. After having this, it’s hard to argue the “best ramen in Vancouver” moniker, and I happily recommend it.

 

 

This brings me to our second ramen, the Green basil ramen ($11.75). This came with fresh basil pesto and parmesan cheese on their signature tonkotsu broth. This taste like… well, imagine an Italian pesto pasta, but a whole lot wetter and with Asian overtones, and you’d be pretty close to this dish. The basil parmesan comes heaped in a corner of the bowl where you can mix in as much or as little as you like. With Lily and I being the mavericks that we are, we decided to just start mixing straight away and this became our undoing as the basil flavour was just inescapable after that.

This cheesy pesto-y ramen did get a little strange tasting. Honestly, I would not get this again. It just didn’t hit the right spot for me, its rich and flavourful yet herby and light but not really for us.

With that said, we should mention that we are not huge fans of basil pasta, and Lily who ordered this dish isn’t even a fan of Italian food at all, so who knows what we were thinking when we ordered this in the first place. Sometimes we get carried away when there’s funky menu items.

 

 

Next up is the Cheesy gyoza ($6.25). We ordered this simply because the idea of melted cheese and dumplings sounded too good to be true and I am pleased to announce that it is indeed rad. Steamed then panfried pork gyoza with a delicious helping of melted/roasted smokey cheese is exactly as good as it sounds.

Overall, we had a great time here at The Ramen Butcher, and would definitely go back, especially to try some of their other offerings.

The Ramen Butcher

Address: 223 E Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z6

The Ramen Butcher Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Sanbo Chinese, Richmond

During our explorations of Vancouver, we noticed that just out of Downtown, there’s Chinatown! But with most things Vancouver, one is never enough (endless mountains, massive parks, hot dog stands) so of course, there has to be two Chinatowns aswell.

This is a tale about Chinatown 2: Richmond.

Whenever we researched Asian food in Vancouver, everyone always goes on about how Richmond is the “real” Chinatown, and upon visiting both Chinatown and Chinatown 2: Richmond, it’s hard to disagree. Richmond is definitely a lot more vibrant with a lot of real ‘Asianness’ (it’s a thing!) everywhere. Apparently, the Downtown Chinatown used to be it, but due to its proximity to East Hastings Street and gentrification, the Chinese community moved out to Richmond, where they decided to set up shop again.

So depending on your views of it all, maybe you still think that the Downtown Chinatown is the real Chinatown! In any case it doesn’t really matter, this post is about how we went down to Chinatown 2 and went to a Hong Kong eatery named Sanbo Chinese Restaurant!

 

 

I’ve got a real soft spot for Hong Kong food. I used to travel there all the time (which is a long terrible story that I’m never going to get into). But these trip created my love for their ‘Dai Pai Dong’ which is essentially a type of cafe. I think they’re meant to be open air stalls, but the terminology is really loose. One of the things that I can never resist in Hong Kong is their scrambled egg sandwiches. These come with spam or corned beef and is always filled with the fluffiest scrambled eggs that you’re ever likely to eat.

So, this is the Ham (Spam) and egg sandwich ($4.45) from Sanbo Chinese. This is a bit of a comfort food for me, so I’m just going to say that I loved it with the caveat that it really is what you think it is. Egg and ham in bread, with the crusts cut off! Isn’t it nice that theres an adult sandwich out there that has the crusts removed!? I can eat this and not feel like a child, yay.

I would try and make this at home, except I don’t really want to come to terms with the amount of butter that is required to get the scrambled eggs as fluffy as it is. I’d rather just let that be magic behind the curtain stuff that I treat myself with every so often.

It’s better that way.

 

 

This is another dish that I can’t help but order whenever it’s on the menu Baked pork chop rice ($13.95). It’s essentially rice, covered in pork chops and veggies, then covered with a tomato sauce (sometimes with cheese) and the whole thing gets baked in an oven until it’s all crispy on top, and soft and gooey in the middle. This dish is another one of my Hong Kong loves, and I’ve yet to have a bad one (and I’ve had a LOT of these). I guess the finest compliment I can give this is – it tastes pretty similar to how it does in Australia, and with that, tastes similar to how it is in Hong Kong. Authenticity means a lot to me, so take that for what it’s worth.

 

 

Look at it! In all its gooey glory! So you can see that the rice is fairly untouched by the sauce at this point. I like to take the time to mix the sauce in so the rice becomes a gooey saucy mess before I even get started devouring it. If you’re really lazy, you can take the time to cut up the pork chops into bite sized chunks too, and then this dish becomes a complete one hander – you’ve got a whole free hand to do whatever you want with. Truly a dish for the multitasker.

One thing I should mention is that we also ordered a Hainam chicken ($9.95) take away that we didn’t end up taking a picture of. It was pretty good, though I don’t think it’s really fair to judge it since we had it reheated at home.

All in all, we had a great time here, it’s affordable, authentic and honestly a cuisine I just really enjoy. They only take cash though, so keep that in mind. Because that caused us heaps of problems but there are two ATMs right around the corner.

Sanbo Chinese Restaurant is right outside Richmond Station, so if you ever feel like Hong Kong food, don’t have a favourite all ready and want to walk as little as possible, this  places works for your.

Oh also, this is your typical ratty Asian joint, so don’t expect great service or anything here – but for me, I eat for the food not the service, so this suits me just fine.

Sanbo Chinese Restaurant

Address: 6-6340 Number 3 Road, Richmond

Sanbo Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Medina, Downtown

 

One thing that we as Australians really take for granted is the whole concept of brunch. I didn’t realise this until I travelled to the States but sleeping in and then going out for a real fancy set of eggs doesn’t seem to be a huge thing here on this side of the world. Here in Vancouver in particular, it was surprising to find that most places only do brunch on the weekend, as if we don’t already have enough reasons to love the weekend already!

Lily and I had some nostalgic brunch cravings and looking online, Medina was highly ranked on numerous websites, and really, if we can’t trust our online friends then who can we trust right? So with that decided, Lily and I set out for some sweet egg action that hopefully would remind us a bit of home.

 

 

Well, the fanciness was definitely present! Lily ordered the Saumon Fume ($14). This dish included smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado and capsicum on sourdough with a side of lettuce. Medina are clearly impressed with the quality of their produce and that shines through in this dish, where the flavour of the ingredients themselves do all the talking.

It was a nice, tasty and rather clean dish – nothing too heavy or super flavourful. Although, for $14, it is quite small. At the end of the day, you only get one medium sized sourdough slice with some other ingredients and one fried egg. So if you’re looking to get full or something more substantial, this may not be the right dish for you.

 

 

So on the flip-side of “letting the ingredients do all the talking” comes the Les Boulettes ($17), lamb meatballs, two poached eggs, roasted capsicum served in an olive and tomato stew with grilled focaccia. Both the stew and the meatballs brought a ton of flavour to this dish, they were heavily seasoned in an array of different spices.

The meatballs were also really soft and springy – I couldn’t stop myself from making tiny open sandwiches with the bread. This lead to a self inflicted bread shortage, as you only get one small piece of focaccia, and everything from the meat to the stew to the yolk seemed to scream “put me on bread!” This of course lead to the whole bread conundrum, where I never know if I should ask for more bread or not. Like, is it free? It would be a nightmare if I requested more bread and then I found a charge for like, $2 or something on the bill. I mean come on, bread is pretty great, but I want half a loaf or something for $2. This is weirdly becoming a bit of a theme for me if you read the last post on the Templeton, so I probably should just suck it up and ask someone one day. I’ll let you all know the result when it happens!

We also got a couple of non-alcoholic drinks and some waffles, which we didn’t really take pictures of. We were seated at the bar, so there wasn’t a lot of space and didn’t want to annoy the bartender too much with all our picture taking!

We opted for the waffles ($3.35 each) with milk chocolate lavender, passionfruit syrup and ice cream ($1 for most toppings, $1.5 for maple syrup or yoghurt and $2 for ice cream). The waffles were nice and crispy with a hint of sweetness. This was paired with our choice of toppings, both the lavender white chocolate and passionfruit syrup complemented the waffle nicely. However,  the ice cream was errr… strange. It tasted and felt like ice cream that had been melted then refrozen, with a twang of that “left in the fridge unsealed” taste to it. We’re thinking this might have been due to the fact that the ice cream appeared to be pre-prepared rather than scooped on order, so something might’ve happened there.

We also got two house sodas, the Jamaiquita Lemonade ($5) and the Dickies Ginger Beer ($6). The lemonade was flavoured with hibiscus flower, eucalyptus, fresh lemon juice and grapefruit bitters while the ginger beer was served with fresh lime and mint. Of the two, the lemonade was pretty average – it definitely sounded a lot better than it tasted. It kinda just tasted like a mush of spiced flavours. On the other hand, the ginger beer was quite nice. Medina is also licensed bar, so if you’re into that sort of stuff, yay, alcohol for brunch!

 

Medina is definitely the quintessential brunch place. The decor is what could only be described as ‘modern hipster’ and the presentation of the food is to match. But like all great places that become too well known, Medina is extremely busy, with long lines, and waits during peak lunch hour and over the weekends. The vibe inside the cafe is also kinda crushed by the masses of people – it’s quite a large space that seats a lot so it can get pretty noisy. If you like brunch places like the Grounds of Alexandria (for my Sydney folks), this is the place for you.

Hopefully now that we are getting to know Vancouver, we’ll start to find of the city’s hidden brunch gems!

Medina

Address: 780 Richards Street, Vancouver Downtown

Cafe Medina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato