New Ramen Taka
Different but Delicious
Beware the Hot Soup
As a ramen shop, if you can succeed near Robson and Bidwell, you can make it anywhere in Vancouver. With stewarts Santouka and Marutama nearby, newly arrived ramen-yas need to start strong.
Taking over the Ramenman space on Bidwell, Ramen Taka Notsume (Taka for short) is a chain from the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. The franchise is being operated by the folks of the recently shuttered Kyzock Sushi Bowl House. Given the quality I experienced at Kyzock (I miss those charashi bowls), I expected good things.
On my first visit, curiosity got the better of me and I went off script. I had planned to get a baseline with their signature Dragon’s Dewdrop Shoyu ramen but Ramen Taka’s Deluxe Truffle Ramen was too intriguing yet scary to pass up.
Why was I apprehensive? The noodle bowl featured roast beef (fascinating) and truffle salt (concerning). I’m not a fan of most truffle oil and salt products. Too often these products are an exaggerated, obnoxious, and overwhelming truffle smell which doesn’t reflect the savouriness and subtlety of truffle mushrooms. Seriously some truffle products are getting into the durian stink range. If truffles were that pungent, people would not need dogs and pigs to help find them.
The truffle smell preceded the arrival of the Deluxe Ramen which was worrisome. However past the initial whiff, the truffle salt was not that noticeable except for the occasional punch of flavour.
The roast beef was medium at the start and I wish it was served rarer. Within minutes, the roast beef cooked to well done thanks to the scalding hot soup. As a result, the beef was a bit tough. I feel a medium rare roast beef served on a separate plate would do better. For those who want it more cooked, they can dunk the slices into the soup – shabu shabu style. Despite being overcooked, the robust beef cha su worked and was a nice change from pork cha su.
I thought the star of the bowl was the super hot and clear soup. I expected a heavy stock to be used but instead the soup was light. It reminded me of a homemade dashi broth that’s been enhanced with a meat broth. It paired well with the beef and thin noodles.
The soup is topped with lard but it doesn’t make the bowl too heavy or greasy. The oil slick does trap heat and keeps the already scalding soup hot through out your meal. It’s a challenge to eat your noodles quickly without burning yourself. This is the one time I wish I could slurp loudly like in Japan; it’s the best way to eat ramen fast.
To complete my meal, I got the four piece Zangi Karaage. The fried chicken was juicy and well seasoned. The outer coating was crunchy, but light and not oily. It’s the best karaage I’ve had at ramen shop in town and highly recommend ordering it.
At $22 a bowl I’m not sure the beef ramen is something I would order regularly especially given I prefer a less done roast beef. However the flavour, and quality of the soup convinced me that I needed to return to check out more ramen from Ramen Taka.
A few days later, I tried the more economical $12 Dragon’s Dewdrop Shoyu ramen for lunch. I’ve noticed myself choosing shoyu based soups for their robust flavour but lighter consistency lately. Taka’s version had the depth I wanted; savoury, sweet, and umami rich but not overly salty.
Notable toppings for the bowl were the halved seasoned gooey egg, cloud ear mushroom, and large but thin piece of lean and marinated cha su. The firm thin noodles once again needed to be eaten quickly or be cooked to death by the hot lard shielded soup
I enjoyed the shoyu ramen and appreciated all the small details that kitchen put into the bowl. Not a lot of places actually season their cha su.
The Dragon’s Rice was earthy with shiitake and cloudy ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots and chopped up cha su. The pink pickled ginger provided a tart contrast. However, the rice was a touch soft for my liking but the dish was solid. Although I feel the karaage outclasses this side dish unless one really wants rice.
As much as I still mourn for the departed Ramenman, Ramen Taka is a worthy replacement. Well prepared ingredients and attention to detail are present in their ramen bowls. More importantly, Ramen Taka’s offerings are different enough from their competitors but still familiar and comforting. I think they have the right stuff to thrive at Bidwell and Robson.
Ramen Taka Notsume
841 Bidwell Street,
Vancouver, BC V6G 2J7