Bowls filled with monster
Amounts of Food. Love it or
Leave It: GoJiro
In 2009, the Guardian newspaper
named the ramen served at Ramen Jiro, a chain in Tokyo, the fiftieth best food in the world to eat, giving the eatery the last spot on its list. These lists are always divisive and sometimes the methodology behind their creation is murky. However it is still praise and noteworthy that someone thought that highly of Ramen Jiro, especially given that the ramen is so unapologetically basic.
Today, Ramen Jiro has maintained its popularity, with long waits at some of its outlets. Its ramen is the antithesis of refined. Based on online reviews, the ramen’s claim to fame is simply its intense volume of food. You want big slabs of chashu, fatty soup and thick noodle, Ramen Jiro loves you; you want something more understated and nouveau – GTFO.
With the opening of Ramen Gojiro in Vancouver, I couldn’t help notice the similarities between the latest Menya Kouji Group endeavor and the aforementioned famous Japanese noodle shop. I couldn’t find any evidence of a relationship between the two, like the one the corporate entity has with Taishoken in Japan (the one Vancouver is not affiliated).
Is this a licensing/franchise partnership or a company taking advantage of the enormous difficulties of defending intellectual property overseas without deep pockets and a battalion of lawyers? Is the Godzilla (gojira) theme a smokescreen to obscure the fact that the food at Gojiro has more in common with Ramen Jiro than the mythical Japanese monster? Of course I’m just speculating.
I went with the Basic Chashu ramen with an added egg and corn. Normally, I would at least try 2 ramens off a menu before writing a review but in the case of Ramen GoJiro that would be hard for me to do. There’s not much choice here at this new ramen-ya. One can select: the small or big size, chashu or chicken karaage for a protein, and spicy or not. It really is a love it or leave it situation.
Since I cannot eat spicy and I loathe wasting food, which I would do with the monster size, my only option is to select the basic ramen and the meat topping I wanted for my noodles. Eventually there will be tsukemen but it’s unclear when that will be available.
Even the basic ramen is enormously portioned, hearty, robust and simple. The noodles are thick, firm and hold up quite well over time. This is not a 3 slurp and you’re done in 5 minutes type of noodle bowl. The rotund carby strands, reminiscent of a Shanghai thick noodle, are a perfect choice to pair with the fatty chicken, pork, and shoyu blended broth. The broth is deliciously flavourful without being thick like the rich tonkotsu soups around town. The oily layer you initially see does dissipate as it’s absorbed by the noodles and mixed in with the toppings.
The ramen egg was seasoned well and had the desired gooey centre. The generous serving of thicker cut chashu was also executed nicely. The voluminous topping of bean sprouts and cabbage added a crunchy texture to make the noodles less monotonous to eat. If you’re a vampire beware the garlic, as it’s raw and pungent, but its strong taste melds nicely with the soup.
In addition to the ramen, my dining companions and I tried the Terispa Karaage and Gyoza.
What’s Teripsa? It’s a dual of teriyaki sauce and spicy mayo. I thought the dark meat chicken was marinated well as I could detect ginger. However I thought the pieces were not crispy enough; there were some patches of meat that barely had any crunch.
I preferred the Gyoza as I thought the filling was very soft, smooth and juicy. Flavoured with green onions and ginger, I found these pan fried dumpling the better cooked side dish.
Overall my meal at Ramen Gojiro was a good and satisfying experience. The bowl of ramen served was basic, comforting and no fuss but it is not for everyone.
Personally as much as I like my meal, due to its overwhelming volume and bold flavours (seriously bring mints or gum – the garlic is deadly) I can’t see myself dining here often. I worship at the more refined altar of The Ramenman and Santouka. However I feel if you are a disciple of Kintaro, Ramen Gojiro might be in your wheelhouse.
If you’re curious about the Ramen Jiro experience in Japan, you can read this Buzzfeed reporter’s recent adventure here
. It wasn’t pretty and sort of like how I felt after finishing my meal at Gojiro. For those that have had a first hand encounter with the intensity known as Ramen Jiro, please let me know how you find Ramen Gojiro here in Vancouver? I’m super curious if this a straight on copycat or if there are
501 Dunsmuir Street
604 673 0918
For an alternative take on Ramen Gojiro check out Dennis the Foodie’s blog
for his thoughts. He and his wife finished their bowls of ramen, where as I could not.