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


The Templeton, Downtown

One thing I love about Americana is the whole diner aesthetic. The puffy bench chairs, jukebox, old posters of soda for 15c, all that crap, I love it! So imagine how excited I was the first time I walked past The Templeton in Downtown Vancouver? Upon looking in, it’s the dinerest looking diner I’ve ever seen, with pictures of old stuff embedded in the tables and individual jukeboxes in each booth. Slice of 50’s and all that.

Our trip to The Templeton was quite a fateful one, in that we were kind of just..in the area, and were hungry. I’m sure a lot of you out there have similar stories where you’re just randomly happen upon a place and end up having a great meal, this is one of those stories.

The Templeton has a pretty wide ranging menu of burgers, sandwiches and bowls etc. but I’m a “breakfast for all meals all day” kind of guy so I went straight for the all day breakfast menu!

Note to other cafes: Everyone loves all day breakfast, so please do it.

Way back when, I was pretty obsessed with the show Man vs Food, and there was this one episode where he goes to a place called Juan in a Million in Texas and eats like, 5 serves of breakfast tacos. Those tacos looked bloody amazing to me, and ever since then, I’ve always ordered the breakfast taco if it’s on the menu, and lovingly, The Templeton has provided where many places have not.

 

 

I went straight for the Huevos Rancheros ($11.50) with a side of bacon for $3 extra and I was pretty impressed with it. The eggs were scrambled but had all those omelette fillings mixed into it. This was topped with a nice serve of beans and some delightful salsa for flavour.

The one thing that sort of gets me with breakfast tacos is that I never seem to get enough tortillas. What do I do in that situation? Do I ask for more? Are they going to charge me? I don’t really want them if they’re like $1 a tortilla, but at the same time, I really want them if they’re free.

It’s so awkward.

In any case, I liked this dish.

 

 

Next up was the Vegetarian Benny ($12.50). This comes with cream cheese, spinach and avocado. I’ve always been a huge fan of eating animals with a benedict, either salmon or ham but this dish made me realise with all the egg and hollandaise going on, you don’t really need it. There’s more than enough flavour here to compensate for the lack of animal. The big hitter for this dish was the avocado, which was really creamy and just worked with the egg incredibly well.

Next up we have another segment in our award(ish) winning series: poached or pwned! If you’re new, it’s when we check a poached egg and see whether it’s poached well, or cooked to crap. Here at The Templeton we got…

 

 

Poached! Ish! I know it looks really pwnish but we had a lot of good yolk here. It wasn’t completely runny, more like a slightly more cooked soft boiled egg.

 

 

Lily kind of struggles when it comes to refusing ice cream, and when you have something as cute as the Lil Sundae for as little as $4.50 you really need to ask yourself if it really is that weird to have ice cream at 10 in the morning.

It isn’t. Ice cream is glorious at all times of the day.

For the price, I thought this was fantastic, strawberry ice cream, crushed nuts, drizzled in choco syrup with a helping of whipped cream on top. I’m going to assume you’ve all had ice cream before, and this, this is pretty similar to those experiences I’d imagine.

 

 

And here we are, saving the best til last!

“But Ouk” you all exclaim, “It’s a drink! How could a drink be the best thing?!” Well. It was.

This is the Boozy Shake: Sunny Daze ($8.50). It’s a strawberry ice cream shake with Malibu rum. Wow. Reading back over the simplicity of the ingredients I don’t really know how this is possible, but this milkshake was absolutely incredible. The slight coconut tang, the overwhelming strawberry deliciousness, and of course, the booziness. I’m not a huge alcohol guy really, especially not at 10am, so really, the booziness isn’t a huge plus point for me, but somehow this all connected into something amazing, something that would surely turn me into an alcoholic if I somehow had $8.50 to blow on a drink every single day.

The Templeton

Address: 1087 Granville Street, Vancouver

The Templeton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato