Where Vancouver Chefs Go for Ramen

Vancouver's top chefs reveal their go-to spots for the tastiest noodles and broth

Want to slurp like a chef? Visit one of these recommended ramen spots for some of the tastiest soup in town

When it comes to curing a hangover, filling you up after a hard day at work, or just plain acting like a goddam noodle-y hug in a bowl, nothing beats ramen. And we are blessed in Vancouver to have some of the finest around. From plump noodles to curly slender sprigs and deeply layered flavourful broths to light salty soups, there is a ramen in town guaranteed to suit your taste buds.

We asked some of the city’s best chefs where they like to get their ramen fix. In no particular order, here is our top 10…


1. Marutama, 780 Bidwell Street

Recommended by Chef Teppei Yamamoto, Hapa Izakaya Coal Harbour
“My favourite ramen restaurant is Marutama. I love their tori paitan chicken broth. Marutama is famous for tori paitan while other ramen shops are known for tonkotsu, which is a pork-based broth. Tori paitan is as rich and creamy as pork broth, but not as fatty. Tori paitan also contains collagen, which is great for your skin and is very popular in Japan! My background is French cuisine and this place reminds me of a very tasty French broth. I personally love their aosa (seaweed). So I would highly recommend tori paitan ramen with a marinated soft-boiled egg and lots of aosa seaweed.”


2. Gyoza King, 1508 Robson Street

Recommended by chef Marc-André Choquette, Tableau
“My first bowl of ramen noodles was at Gyoza King on Robson Street. This Japanese eatery was introduced to me by friends and co-workers from the industry within my first few weeks of moving to B.C. from Montreal back in ’98. The BBQ pork and kimchi ramen were always my to-go meal after a busy week at the restaurant or when I felt a cold or flu creeping up on me. Since then, a lot has changed in the ramen scene in Vancouver with multiple specialized ramen shops, but Gyoza King is always my go-to for a bowl of ramen soup after-hours when I’m downtown.”


3. Harvest Union, 243 Union Street

Recommended by chef Jacob Deacon-Evans
“I worked with chef Andrea Carlson for years at Bishop’s and I love everything that she does. Harvest is probably the only ramen shop in town I could tell you where the ingredients are from; it’s an interesting take on ramen, she builds a depth of flavour in the broth that isn’t simply pork-on-pork-fat-on-pork. It’s clean too; you feel clean after you’ve eaten it, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of places. I get the mushroom and smoked tofu, strictly speaking that’s an udon, but I get it with ramen noodles which are freshly made and they cook them each time in a fresh batch of water. Now I know some people like the way it thickens the ramen if the noodles are cooked in the same water which gets increasingly sludgy and starchy but I like it fresh; the integrity of the noodle stands up more if it’s not starchy.”


4. Motomachi Shokudo, 740 Denman Street

Recommended by chef Pekka Tavela, Burdock & Co
“I absolutely love ramen. There are a lot of top-notch ramen places in town but I’d have to say my favourite would be Motomachi Shokudo on Denmandefinitely a hidden gem. Their Miso Tonkotsu is on point, pretty good gyoza as well. I really appreciate the richness of a well-made tonkatsu broth (boiled pork bone), the best of which are often milky, golden and full-bodied. The ‘new age’ addition of miso to the broth adds an extra hit of umami (you can never have too much) to each spoonful that pairs excellently with sweet corn, chasu pork, and seaweed. Some prefer the extra-rich version that Kintaro (just up the street) offers, but I prefer the more balanced version produced by Motomatchi. Besides, there’s usually less of a line!”


5. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, 1690 Robson Street

Recommended by Chef David Hawksworth, Hawksworth
“I like the classic miso ramen and it’s very delicious at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka: a clean broth, the right portion size, it’s not too much, and it’s never fatty. Ramen can get rich in a hurryit doesn’t look like it could, but it is, and I think they do a very good job. I think it’s probably the best one out there. Their noodle is thinner and there’s a nice bite to it: starchy, but a nice bright yellow and it’s just very delicious.”


6. Suika, 1626 West Broadway

Recommended by Chef Andrea Carlson, Burdock & Co
“The oxtail ramen at Suika has long been a favourite of mine. It’s simple and clean and captures the absolute fatty depth and richness of oxtail without being stodgy. I take it totally just plain; that’s the beauty of it, it’s so light and simple, it’s a clear broth, not fatty or cloudy, and they garnish it with green onions but the depth is what makes it. The broth is so masterfulthe technique is amazing, it seems simple but it’s been done so wellthey’ve just captured it, and the noodles are good and chewy, it’s excellent.”


7. Kintaro, 788 Denman Street

Recommended by chef Ned Bell, YEW Seafood + Bar
“Ramen is all about the broth and Kintaro’s is the best by far. I get their classic famous pork ramen and I like to doctor it up the way I like itwith lots of hot sauce. Their broth is the best because it is pure pork love: rich, fatty, full of flavour and constantly on display simmering away in the two huge pots on the stove! I love the traditional thin noodles for maximum slurpage, and of course, an extra side of sliced pork on the side. If you’re hungry, add a side of noodles, but the portions are huge so you won’t leave hungry.”


8. Damso, 867 Denman Street

Recommended by chef Shelome Bouvette, Chicha
Damso’s ramen is inspired by the iconic instant ramen in Korea called Shin Ramyun. Their ramen broth is made with chicken stock, dashi broth, fish sauce, lots of garlic, gochugaru chili powder, and doenjang fermented soy bean. It’s spicy and has lots of umami from the fermented ingredients mixed in. Their noodle is an alkaline ramen noodle that is specially made with their own recipe to give pleasant chewy texture.”


9. Gyoza Bar, 622 Pender Street

Recommended by Shin Suzuki, Pidgin
“Ramen is my preferred pick-me-up fuel, especially when the days start getting cooler.  When I go out for ramen, I look at how the ingredients are placed in the bowl, as well as the broth and quality of noodlesnot to mention it must be served piping hot. At Gyoza Bar, they offer an umami shoyu market vegetable bowl; it’s a ridiculously delicious soy-based vegetable broth topped with kale, fresh corn and broccolini. Noodles are made in-house and all ingredients are local and largely organic with no MSG. It’s the perfect guilt-free midday meal.”


10. Taishoken, 515 Abbott Street

Recommended by chef Montgomery Lao
“The tsukemen experience is a bit different compared with the typical ramen, with the broth being heavily reduced with a lot of intensity and seasoning, served with a thick layer of fat. At Taishoken, the noodles are made thicker and chewier with an alkaline base so there is a nice bite and it forces you to chew slightly, further releasing the flavour of the rich intense stock. The noodles and broth are served separately and are to be dipped by the dinner table side. The effect is the soup glazes the noodles as you dip and slurp, coating everything just right without diluting the stock of having the noodles not over soaked in the soupa different experience which I do enjoy.”