Several changes have been afoot in Vancouver's ramen district in the West End.
As the area features the city's largest concentration of ramen shops, it's also one of the most competitive.
Some places haven't been able to cut it over the years, including Hapa Ramen and Yuzu Shokutei. But that hasn't stopped some new entries from gearing up to crack the market, such as Ramen Koika and Horin Ramen.
A recent closure is the Ramenman, located off Robson Street at 841 Bidwell Street.
The Ramenman first opened in October 2015, but closed temporarily in March and April 2016 for renovations before it relaunched in May with stylish décor and room for 25 patrons, plus a patio.
After it found a following, owner Jun Okamura closed his other eight-year-old venture, Juno Vancouver Sushi Bistro at 572 Davie Street, in May 2017.
He then launched the Ramenman's second location at that spot, perched on the edge of Yaletown, as the Ramenman at Juno.
Okamura told the Georgia Straight that he was facing a potential rent increase at his West End location in the near future and in light of the stiff competition in the area, he decided to permanently close his Bidwell Street location on February 11.
However, all is not lost, for he will continue on by expanding the hours of his Davie Street location (which temporarily closed for some upgrades) to seven days a week by mid-February.
Okamura says the Davie Street menu will offer everything that the Bidwell location did and will even slightly expand. The West End menu covered everything from a signature ramen bowl (made with chicken broth, truffle oil, white wine, and clams) to vegetarian miso ramen (made with shiitake and kelp), as well as sous-vide pork and chicken and 63° egg (also known as onsen egg).
Although its unfortunate that the original location had to close, the expansion of the hours of the Yaletown location will offer more availability of ramen options for those outside of the West End.