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Archive for the ‘Noodles’ Category

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, new restaurants continued to open up in the Burquitlam area, including one I was really excited about. Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba, an international chain originated from Japan. You may have been to their other location downtown on Seymour Street. I did, and every time I walked away with a belly full of carbs and I didn’t regret it one bit. Opening their second location in Burquitlam means it’s much closer to home and more accessible to me. Even though dine-in service was not available at the time, I had to order take-out from them to support.

Note: This is a review of a take-out order during COVID-19. Since restaurants are operating under different circumstances, menu items and dining experiences may be different.

Food

Kokoro specializes something called mazesoba. It’s a dry noodle dish using fresh multi-grain noodle that is somewhere between ramen and udon. Kokoro makes these noodles fresh in-house. Most of their mazesoba bowls come with spicy minced pork and a combination of toppings such as minced garlic, green onions, seaweed flakes, and ground saba fish. A lot of those also come with a raw egg yolk, but for take out it’s been replaced by half soft boiled egg. To enjoy the noodle bowls, you stir everything together thoroughly. In fact, when you dine in, you could order a scoop of rice at the end of your meal to ensure you pick up every last bit of sauce.

 

For the four of us, we ordered one bowl each, including three different mazesoba bowls and one rice bowl to add variety, and a chicken karaage for appy. (more…)

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In Vancouver, there’s no shortage of ramen restaurants. Two of my favourite places are Marutama (for its creamy chicken broth) and Ramen Danbo (for its tasty ramen at a surprisingly reasonable price). While the focus is often on the noodles (especially house made fresh noodles) and chasu, the ramen egg (Ajitsuke Tamago 味付け玉子) is equally important in a bowl of ramen. The marinated egg has this jammy, custard-like yolk that should go on everything. I can’t believe it took a pandemic for me to discover the home-made version. And it’s sooo easy to make, too. Most recipes online call for Japanese sake but we made it with Chinese cooking wine and I thought it worked very well.

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The wait is over. One of the highly anticipated restaurants to open in Vancouver – Afuri ramen + dumpling – has officially opened its doors. The Afuri brand was established in 2001. This is the fourth ramen + dumpling location outside of Japan, first in Canada. Last year we went to Portland and checked out the ramen + izakaya and I was quite excited about the arrival of ramen + dumpling here in Vancouver. Technically the restaurant is in Richmond. It’s where Dazzling Cafe used to be (remember Dazzling Cafe?). I was invited to its media night and previewed some of its menu items.

Afuri ramen + dumpling uses a kiosk system. Meaning, you go up to one of the three kiosks at the restaurant, place your order, grab a number then head back to your table. At the media preview, to my surprise food arrived very quickly so I don’t think it would be a long wait at the table for your food.

Food

Afuri’s signature broth is chicken based. We saw this giant stock pot (apparently there’s only 3 of these pots in Vancouver and here’s one) that holds enough broth to serve 450-500 bowls of ramen. It takes 300lbs of chicken (meat and bones), 3 types of dried fish, konbu seaweed, and fresh vegetables, on a simmer at 90 degrees for 3 hours. They never bring this broth to a boil, to ensure a clear broth in your bowl. It also helps skimming the fat easier. They then add yuzu, a small citrus fruit native to Asia, to give this broth a refreshing taste.

As for noodles, they make them fresh, in house, daily. If you visit them at lunch, you will likely see the machines going, mixing and rolling the dough and cutting the dough into noodles. Will they run out? I was told they would make enough servings everyday and if need be, they can jump in and make some more to meet the demand.

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We’ve been to Ramen Koika a few times over the years, to both locations on Davie and Robson. We always ended up ordering a ramen. The black garlic one was my favourite and Mr. fell in love with the beef ribs one. Little did we know the Robson location actually has a K-Pocha Menu, serving up their version of many Korean favourites. We were invited to sample a few items off that menu.

Triple Black Garlic Ramen

Food

We love KFC! As in Korean Fried Chicken!! Their crust is always lighter and when they fry the chicken it’s always less greasy. And moist chicken breast.

It’s no difference here at Koika. The Soonsal Chicken can be either in sweet chilli or soy garlic, and we went for the sweet chilli as it’s our favourite sauce for KFC. There was a decent amount of boneless chicken pieces. The meat was moist, the exterior still held its crispiness and the sweet chilli sauce definitely packed some heat.

Soonsal Chicken

Next, the Gogi Tteok-bok-ki was spicy rice cake with pork belly. (more…)

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Does the snowy weather just make you want to cuddle up and sit around the fireplace all day? Us Chinese have another way to fight the cold weather — hotpot.

While we usually have hotpot at home, we do go out for it sometimes. There are many hotpot places in Vancouver, with a mix of all-you-can-eat and a la carte options. Recently, I was invited to check out one of the a la carte hotpot places called Liuyishou Hotpot. It’s a worldwide chain, with a few locations in the Lower Mainland in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby.

At the Burnaby location, one thing that caught my eyes right away was the Sauce Bar. It’s probably the largest in BC, if not Canada. You can choose from minced garlic, cilantro and sesame oil, to mushroom paste, spiced vinegar and preserved bean curd. They have even posted some suggested “recipes” of sauces to pair with different soup bases they offer.

Sauce Bar

Sauce recipes

Making sauces

Of course, the more important part is the menu items. Do they offer a lot of options? Are the ingredients fresh? Any interesting items worthy of note? Let’s break it down.

First of all, the soup base. We had half and half Original Chongqing Spicy Soup and Special Pork Rib Soup. The spicy soup base was molded solid into a cattle shape, and it was melted down in front of our own eyes as the server poured hot broth into the pot. I was told that there’s no extra charge for the cattle shaped soup base, but there’s limited quantity everyday so it’s first come, first served.

Pouring broth to melt the cattle shaped soup base

At medium spicy level, I was still worried that the Original Chongqing Spicy Soup would be too spicy. (more…)

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