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


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


Meat & Bread, Gastown

 

There’s one thing that, no matter how much fancy stuff goes down my gullet I will always have time for, and that’s an amazing sandwich. Ever since I experienced my first Subway whilst working at Woolies supermarket as a teen, I’ve been in love with sandwiches. You might be wondering a few things:

  1. How did I go that long before experiencing the joys of a sandwich?
    • I didn’t mind sandwiches, but…that first meatball sub really did it for me. The idea that a sandwich could be hot and not just filled with cold cuts! This was something that I experienced purely by chance. Delicious chance.
  2. Subway is terrible! You’re terrible!
    • You either have never had the meatball sub, or have some sort of disdain for microwaved meat covered in sour tomato sauce. I personally don’t know how you all live with yourselves.

In any case! Imagine my excitement when I found out Vancouver is home to Meat & Bread, a premier sandwich house! So as soon as I could, I persuaded the anti-sandwich half of Lily & Ouk out for a bread date.

 

 

And then I failed. So the first time I tried going to Meat & Bread, I double checked their opening hours and confirmed that they close at 4pm. It was 2:30 and I figured, yeah I can make that. So off I go and I get there at around 3:20 only to be presented with a shopfront with all its chairs packed away. So pro-tip: Meat & Bread will close as soon as they run out of bread for the day. I have no idea when that happened on this particular day, but what I DO know is that it happened before 3:20/

So…no sandwich that day. I am persistent though, and on the second try was greeted with a shop that was open! The decor is cool, shooting for a classic deli approach with a modern twist. Imagine a giant board on the wall with menu items, except it’s not dirty.

 

 

So the first sandwich we got was the Buffalo chicken ($9.50) sandwich. This sandwich was a bit ehh to be honest. Firstly, I was expecting deep fried chicken, so there was that miscommunication but other than that, it just…didn’t wow me. The chicken seems to be a shredded breast meat that is coated in a mild buffalo wing like sauce with a bit of spice to it. It’s a nice sauce, but it covers absolutely everything and I couldn’t tell the difference between the ranch, the slaw or the chicken.

Out of all the bird meats in the world, I’d say that chicken breast is my least favourite. It’s excessively dry and doesn’t have that fatty flavour that its leggy counterparts have in abundance. The inclusion of breast meat here is something my waist is probably thankful for, but my mouth wasn’t thrilled about. I wished that there was thigh meat, or as mentioned before, deep fried chicken.

Upon reading that, it’s hard to hide how fat I sound, but hey! Flavour is flavour.

In positive news, the bread is fantastic! Crusty, dense, just a great sandwich bread – freshly cooked too, I believe.

 

 

The second sandwich we ordered was the Meatball ($9.50). You might have noticed that I have a weakness for meatball subs and this was no different, this was a dam fine meatball sub. Everything about this sub showed why Meat & Bread are considered top tier sandwich makers. The meatballs themselves were springy and moist, the marinara sauce was just a tad sour to balance the meat, and the cheese added that creaminess to tie it all together.

One thing in particular to point out was the inclusion of kale. Lily and I are not big kale fans. In fact, I’d probably describe us almost as kale haters. It’s just sharp lettuce! You can imagine how upset we are with the current kale craze, where it is found on literally everything. Somehow though, the kale in this sandwich didn’t seem to affect the taste at all!

 

My biggest regret here was not ordering one of the porchetta sandwiches – Meat & Bread’s classic. Once we had ordered our sandwiches and sat down, we saw someone else grab one of the porcehttas. The crew pull this big hunka pork love and it was all hot and fresh and man, did it look good.

Next time though.

Next time.

 

Meat & Bread

Address: 370 Cambie Street, Vancouver

Meat & Bread also have a store at 1033 Pender Street, Vancouver. Their menus are slightly different, so check out their website before heading out! Also, I think Cambie opens later.

Meat & Bread Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato