With more ramen shops like Yah Yah Ya and Ramen Gojiro having moved into the downtown core, Robson's Jinya Ramen Bar is getting a timely update.
Jinya at 270 Robson Street opened up back in 2012 (in the former location of Ezogiku Noodle Café). It was the restaurant's first location in Canada, and among the first few North American locations for the chain, which is based in Burbank, California.
A second location opened up at 2129 West 41st Avenue in Kerrisdale in 2015.
Now, with the ramen craze having exploded citywide, the restaurant is preparing for an expansion.
A third location will open this spring at Metrotown at 4575 Central Boulevard in Burnaby. The 2,610-square-foot space will offer seating for 10 at a ramen bar, 20 at a bar, and 24 at dining table, with a 48-seat patio.
Meanwhile, the downtown spot will relocate a few blocks down the street to the Telus building at 541 Robson Street.
Expanding from its current 40-seater location, the new 2,961-square-foot will more than double its seating capacity to accommodate 44 people at dining tables, 12 at the bar, 5 at the ramen bar, and 28 on the patio.
Over ramen at the current downtown location, manager and PR assistant Anthony Lim said they're aiming for a mid-April opening.
The new location will benefit from being right by a bus stop and greater foot traffic, being in closer proximity to the hustle and bustle of Granville Street than their current location, which is towards the end of Robson Street near B.C. Place. (However, even in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, their current location is a full house.)
PR manager and creative director Junko Russell said that the current location tends to attract students from the nearby Vancouver Public Library's central branch, and is more focussed on lunch.
The new spot, she said, will focus more on dinner and will hopefully attract some of the Granville Street nightlife and office workers. She says they want to encourage people to relax, socialize, and enjoy food rather than simply slurping down noodles on the go.
Although the menu hasn't been completed yet, Russell said it will have some elements similar to their Kerrisdale location.
"We're definitely going to have a lot of appetizers, small plates, and side menu," Russell said.
She explained that the emphasis will be on small dishes, such as Brussels sprouts tempura and bao buns with pork chashu, to accompany drinks, with ramen intended to complete the meal.
Noodle fans needn't have any worries about the menu, as all of the ramen that they're known for will be on the menu. That includes signature dishes like their Jinya tonkotsu black (with pork broth and pork chashu, $13.80) as well as spicy chicken ramen ($13.80) and the garlic-heavy cha cha cha ($16.80). There's also vegetable soup ramen ($11.80) and a spicy, creamy vegan ramen with thick noodles ($12.50), as well as spinach noodles as an option.
Lin added that the new location will be more accessible for groups and communal dining.
The layout will feature a bar in the centre of the room, with seating and tables arranged around the perimeter. The décor, which will include brick and dark wood, will be more developed than the current location and will reflect their shift towards their new menu focus.
"We're going to be selling stuff like sake and cocktails," Lin said. "The interior and the atmosphere has to cater to that and influence that."