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After being disappointed by every single ramen shops in Calgary, Kev and I reached the conclusion that Vancouver is the ultimate place for ramen enjoyment in western Canada. On our trip to Vancouver this summer, we stopped by Marutama Ra-men to satiate our ramen craving and keep up with the noodle trend.
Tucked away on Bidwell and Robson streets, this little gem is all about ramen in chicken broth. Originally from Japan, the restaurant has expanded internationally to make Japanese chicken noodles more accessible to ramen aficionados worldwide.
Though Marutama Ra-men is often less busy than its close competitors, you are still requested to add your name to the waiting list in order to be seated. We visited on a Sunday during peak lunch time, but we managed to get a table within 15 minutes!
This clean and brightly lit noodle shop features a light-colored wood decor, with the option of seating at the communal table, individual table, kitchen counter, or at the window facing towards the street.
Despite having an open concept kitchen, the dining area is not affected by the heat. You can enjoy a bowl of warm noodle soup without feeling irritated by excessive sweating (Much better than the other restaurant nearby. If you know which one I’m referring to. Wink wink.)
Extracted entirely from chicken, their soup is anything but bland. Using chicken bones and chicken feet, they are able to produce a rich, flavorful soup base that is loaded with collagen. The addition of salt and domestic Japanese seaweed, Aosa, gives an intense oceanic flavour to the broth. No matter which ramen you order, you can choose between mild and spicy. You can even select the firmness of the noodle (soft, regular, or al dente)! What a thoughtful option for picky eaters like me!
Since it was our first time there, we felt that it was a no-brainer to order their signature tamago ramen ($10.50) with al dente noodles. The chicken broth was lighter than pork-based soup, but well-flavored with the right amount of saltiness. Oooh, and the onsen egg – it was soft-boiled carefully to produce a creamy, custard-like yolk. What’s more, the egg was beautifully marinated in soy sauce until the surface took on a tawny brown color with a mildly salty flavor! Too bad the chashu was too lean that we found the pork to be a little on the dry side.
Made freshly in house, the noodles were wavy, thin and firm to bite, but not at all chewy.
We also ordered the chashu ramen ($12.75) in spicy broth with al dente noodles. The ingredients were more or less identical to the tamago ramen, with more slices of chashu, and minus the egg. Without any sign of redness in the broth, it was easy to mistaken it for a mild broth. However, thai green chili was added to give it a sharp bite and burning sensation. Watch out! Do not attempt carelessly.
For extra flavor, you can add some deep-fried garlic, chili powder or sesame seeds that are readily available on the table.
It’s worth a visit for any adventurous ramen enthusiasts who are looking for a change from greasy pork-based ramen. The noodles and chashu were not up to my standard, but I would go back for the onsen eggs! If you’re from Calgary and think Ikemen is decent, this place will completely change your mind.