223 Georgia St, Vancouver BC V6A 1Z6
Chinatown is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city; it has just the right mix of gentrification, while still maintaining some of its history and culture, all the while harbouring some seedy underbelly-ness. I like the character and I don’t mind that it’s not squeaky clean. It’s also home to some of the coolest food stops now because like-minded people are putting their businesses there to grow and change the community.
Enter The Ramen Butcher – one of many little foodie shops right in the heart of Chinatown that’s worth popping into if you’re craving a bowl of the hearty stuff. The entrance is pretty unassuming, minus the giant glass decals of a mustachioed, gun-slinging pig in a top hat. Alright, I can dig that.
Upon entry, I noticed the hog theme seemed to continue throughout the restaurant – little statuettes of pigs lined the dining tables, some pig posters scattered throughout. To my surprise, the biggest eye-catcher wasn’t some giant pig, it was a long wooden board hammered with giant nails in the word ‘RAMEN’. Above it, a mobile of paper cranes floating under the ceiling. This place was getting stranger by the moment. Somehow it all worked, and I liked the vibe.
We were greeted, seated, and provided menus and water promptly. I had a hard time deciding between two items but made a last-minute decision: I was going to have the Red Spicy Ramen, spice level 3 (the hottest) because I’m a glutton for punishment. My partner chose the Yokohama Ramen, which seems to be their special and popular choice considering there is a limit of 30 bowls served daily.
My Red Spicy Ramen was indeed spicy, served with all the fixings and a dallop of spicy garlic paste which was potent and delicious. The pork chashu was tender and lean, the pork broth was extremely rich and creamy to help balance out the hit of heat. The bowl came with thin noodles that were cooked on the chewier al-dente side. I prefer my noodles this way, rather than large and soggy.
The Yokohama Iekei Ramen was even richer and more flavourful, combining both qualities of pork and chicken into a broth that had strong umami taste with a lot of depth. No spice was needed here. The pork was also tender and lean while the noodles were larger and less firm.
They have a very cute and potentially messy sesame seed dispenser – a little bottle with a wind-top lid, similar to a pencil sharpener in grade school. I was sure to load up on this because I love sesame, and it’s just fun.
One other thing I noticed was the music playing – it was a mix of 90s and early 2000’s hip hop and pop. I caught myself singing Informer by Snow, then Honey by Mariah Carey, then O.P.P. by Naughty by Nature, and then On Bended Knee by Boyz II Men. I was impressed by the strange yet awesome playlist and couldn’t help but picture who this DJ could be. Not sure I’m down with O.P.P. but by the end of my meal, I was definitely down with T.R.B.
- Red Spicy Ramen, Spiciness Level 3 $11.75
- Yokohama Iekei Ramen $11.50
Beats: O.P.P. – Naughty by Nature