Ramen resto roundup: Touhenboku, Yah Yah Ya, and Natsumi add to Vancouver's ramen rage

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      Ramen—you can't beat it, so you might as well just eat it.

      Seriously, the number of shops continuing to open up across Vancouver is making ramen almost impossible to avoid. While not as big as sushi yet, ramen joints are well on their way to becoming as common as, possibly even more common than, izakayas.

      Three new ramen shops are about to add to the noodle explosion: one in the West End, another in the downtown core, and a third in East Vancouver. Here's a quick overview.

      New kid on the block

      Of couse, the go-to spot in the city for ramen is the intersection of Denman and Robson streets in the West End.

      Around that area are Kintaro, Motomachi Shokudo, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, Marutama Ra-Men, Danbo, and Hida Takayama (inside Robson Public Market).

      (The 7-Eleven on Robson and Cardero even started selling ramen—believe it or not—but the store recently shut down.)

      Hapa Ramen was shut down, along with Hapa Izakaya, in June at 1479 Robson Street due to unpaid rent.

      Yet, rather than the large number of ramen spots discouraging others from opening up nearby, it has instead inspired others to join in the feeding frenzy.

      The Ramenman reopened in May at 841 Bidwell, off Robson, with a revamped menu.

      Koyuki Sapporo Ramen opened up at 795 Jervis Street, just off Robson, in June.

      Men-no Kura House of Ramen is under construction at 1173 Robson Street, near Denman.

      About to get into the game is Touhenboku Ramen, which is setting up shop at 854 Denman Street.

      Touhenboku Ramen

      Founded by Zuimei Okuyama, the ramen chain comes from Toronto, where they have three locations.

      Their ramen is based upon ramen from Kyushi, Japan using mizutaki, slow-cooked thick, creamy chicken-based stock.

      Ramen offerings include white original, black garlicky, meatlover chashu, red spicy, light touhenboku, and vegetarian, with a choice of thick or thin ramen noodles and various extra toppings available.

      Touhenboku Ramen

      Their menu also offers appetizers ranging from korokke (panko croquettes) to takoyaki and ebimayo, donburi, and desserts from cheesecake to tiramisu.

      Amusingly, touhenboku means "block head" in English. It's a tribute to a café that Okuyama was a regular of when he was growing up in Japan. Their cartoon-character mascot Tomo, purportedly part Japanese maple and part Canadian maple, reflects this name.

      Touhenboku Ramen

      Yay for Richmond ramen

      Richmond has been getting a number of notable ramen spots, such as G-Men and Sanpoutei, which has meant suburbanites don't have to travel all the way downtown to get their fill of noodles.

      Yah Yah Ya Ramen joined the club at 1423–8388 Capstan Way in Richmond back in June 2014.

      Yah Yah Ya Ramen

      Two years later, it's going to be making its downtown Vancouver debut at 570 Robson Street, in the space formerly occupied by the Japanese restaurant Junsei River. The location will join the stretch of Japanese eateries along Robson, including Japadog, Gyudonya, and Ebi-Ten, and a few blocks away from Ramen Gojiro.

      Yah-Yah-Ya specializes in Yokohama iekei ramen, which uses a pork soy sauce broth.

      Yah Yah Ya Ramen

      Ramen options include shoyu, shio, miso, spicy miso, black tonkotsu (pork-based broth), and abura soba (noodles without broth), with additional toppings available.  

      East Van eats

      Like Richmond, East Vancouver is also getting its own ramen shops to check out so that diners don't have to travel out of their neighbourhoods to get a bowl of noodles.

      A new one is Natsumi Ramen, which had its soft opening on July 8 at 1179 Commercial Drive.

      Natsumi Ramen

      So far, the restaurant offers four types of ramen: shoyu or shio (with chicken and pork broth), tonkotsu (pork-based broth), and vegetarian (with vegetable broth). 

      But stay tuned for an expanded menu once the restaurant has its official opening.

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