Vancouver isn’t short of good noodle soup. From ramen to phō, udon to koh soi, we’re rich in choice, flavour profile and noodle style. From Japan, Thailand and Vietnam to the many regions of China, you can taste a different country/region each night and not run out for at least a couple weeks. And, like the supply, our appetite is endless, meaning there’s always room for newcomers. Here are two recent additions that are worth a slurp.
The famed broth of Marutama in the West End (and its second downtown location near the main library) needs no introduction to anyone who’s ever visited and sampled that heavenly chicken-based ramen. The third location, which just opened last month on Main Street, claims to offer something a little bit different. While still in its soft-opening phase (and waiting for a liquor licence), the classic shoyu with cha-shu is the main feature for now. This is a kotteri-style of broth – rich, opaque, cooked low and slow with plenty of chicken bones (including feet for extra calcium and fattiness), and flavoured with soy sauce. The noodles are made in-house and the soup is simply dressed with fresh green and red onion, seaweed, and an optional marinated and slow-cooked egg. At this location, look for a massive hot pot to appear soon, good for at least two to share, featuring chicken meat balls and thigh, assorted vegetables and fungi, and your choice or ramen noodle or rice. At $30 per person, it’s an investment, but judging by the sizes generally on offer, you won’t leave without a wheelbarrow or at least a crutch of some sort. In the meantime, don’t miss the “mega” chicken karaage, which is an entire leg, fried and drizzled with lemon. Crispy on the outside, explosively juicy on the inside, one piece ($7.50) is practically a meal on its own. marutama.ca
Rhinofish Noodle Bar
Since chef Hung opened a handful of years ago, locals have expressed their consistent appreciation and devotion to niu rou mian, more commonly known as Taiwanese beef noodle soup. There haven’t been many other contenders for this dark and lush broth, until Rhinofish opened this past summer. The first solo venture for chef/owner David Wu, the specialty here is, naturally, the soup. The beef broth is incredibly earthy, dark and aromatic. Instead of rice wine, Wu uses red cooking wine, and the almost-feral aroma is quite prominent. The beef is tender, almost falling apart at the touch of the chopsticks, and the bok choy and carrots are perfectly cooked, with ample bite. It’s a dish that’s deceptively simple, but makes for a filling and fairly satisfying meal. The small pork belly bao ($5.50) with Asian sauerkraut and peanut powder was too simple, though. There wasn’t enough sauerkraut in mine to give any contrast in flavour, and the peanut powder was largely tasteless. Better were the chicken nuggets ($7.50) with Nanjing sauce. These were tender, juicy morsels nicely offset by the dipping sauce. The parmesan and truffle oil option ($8.50) didn’t attract me (I prefer actual truffles, as opposed to “flavoured” oils), but seemed like a popular item at neighbouring tables. Wood ear mushroom with plum vinaigrette ($5) were a fantastic starter; sour, earthy and slightly sweet. rhinofishnoodlebar.com
Rhinofish Noodle Bar
• Anya Levykh is a food, drink and travel writer who covers all things ingestible. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @foodgirlfriday.