While I do appreciate the cheap lunch specials at X-Site Grill and Bistro, I want more international food too. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when A Taste of Asia was away on vacation on Saturday. We were planning to go there for Dot Com Pho, but since they were closed, we tried a place that just opened next door: Hakkaku Ramen Japanese Noodle Restaurant. It’s so new that, as of this writing, it’s not even on Urbanspoon and many folks thought they weren’t going to open until September.
You can watch the Dot Com Pho episode, if you’d like, but I also took a few photos of the food itself. Not unlike places like Ogenki Ramen, Hakkaku is taking advantage of the rising trend in ramen houses in the Vancouver area. The food is deceptively simple (it’s actually very complex; instant noodles with MSG packets these are not). When done well, though, it can be so satisfying.
I had the Shio Ramen. Shio is a sea salt-based soup base and it is generally one of the lightest options. While the broth was reasonably rich and flavorful, it was on the saltier side of things. The noodles had a decent bounce to them, which is good. It comes with a single slice of chashu (BBQ pork), which was very thick, but again on the saltier side of things.
With each bowl of ramen noodles (most are in the $7 range), you can choose between rich or regular soup, and between lean shoulder meat or fatty belly meat. I went with the regular soup and fatty meat. An extra 50 cents bought me 50% extra noodles as well.
Here is the hot miso ramen. It is the miso ramen, but concocted into a spicy soup base. Aaron Koo opted for the combo deal, which bundles the ramen with a mini chashu don (BBQ pork on rice) and a side of oshinko pickles. That combo is about $10. Not shown is the additional gyoza appetizer (about $3.50).
Hakkaku is far from being the best ramen noodle place in town, but I think it shows some promise. Service was on the slower side, despite not having too many customers, but this could be just a part of the growing pains of opening a new restaurant. Prices are fair and I will likely be back. Maybe the restauranteurs need to watch the Ramen Girl movie for some inspiration. It’s all about having the perfect soup base.