DinnerSantouka Hokkaido Ramen


Santouka Hokkaido Ramen joins the fray of ramen shops including Benkei, Motomachi Shokudo and Kintaro on Vancouver’s West End. This imported Japanese franchise, with several dozen branches globally, brings its own refined blend of Hokkaido soup and noodles to Robson Street.

Like its counterparts, Santouka is a relatively small space, but not cramped. A gigantic communal table sits at the front of the shop, a bar runs down the length of the open kitchen, while the rest of the dining room is filled with a few regular two top tables.

(Above: Shio Ramen, a Tonkatsu broth seasoned with sea salt and garnished with green onions, wood ear and bamboo.)

We arrived shortly before 5pm, early enough to snag the two remaining seats left at the communal table. Minutes after we sat down, the line began forming. But the staff was able to quickly whittle the line down by efficiently turning over tables as patrons left.

Case ordered the Shio ramen, a velvety broth of pork bone stock generously seasoned with sea salt and garnished with green onions, wood ears and bamboo. The broth flavour is noticeable less fatty than Kintaro’s, yet still maintains a deeply rich flavour. The Cha Su was equal parts fat and lean and it was all fall apart tender. The noodles were equally well executed — nice texture and flavour. As a bonus, Case was happy to order a smaller portion for a dollar less (on the flipside, you could upsize for a dollar more).

I ordered the Green Onion set with a spicy Miso Ramen: a miso broth kicked up ever so slightly (it looks far more spicy than it actually is) with a bit of chili and Kimchi. The set includes a half boiled egg (tasty, but nothing special), and a bowl of rice humbly topped with shards of green onions, bonito and nori. The rice could have very easily been a throw away side, but the fragrant combination of green onions, bonito and nori really elevated this dish.

(Clockwise: 1. Rice topped with green onion, nori and bonito flakes. 2. Half a boiled egg. 3. Spicy Miso Kimchi Ramen.)

Our meal came to just under $25 with taxes and tips which, given the portions, is slightly pricier than similar ramen shops. The price difference, however, wouldn’t deter us (nor should it deter anyone) from returning. We’re still fans of Kintaro’s ramen. But, Santouka is the perfect alternative for those seeking a less fatty alternative.

Perfect for: Healthier ramen — that (thankfully) doesn’t taste healthier.

The Details

1690 Robson Street, Vancouver

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka on Urbanspoon

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