Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.
Ramen Koika recently opened up their second location on Robson Street in Hapa Izakaya’s old location. Their original location is still at Davie Street but of course it’s good news that there is another ramen option in this area.
The ramen shop has a nice modern decor and is quite spacious compared to many of the other ramen shops in the area. I like how they have tables that fit larger groups which most of the other ramen restaurants would not be able to accommodate. Just shortly after 6pm on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant was already at capacity, so make sure to come by early if you’re with a larger group.
The menu is a decent size with a variety of appetizers and rice bowls available. These are great for sharing and a good option if someone in your group isn’t craving ramen. They also have beers, sakes, and soju. I noticed they also carry Fuggles and Warlock’s beers! Great to support local breweries!
As for ramen, they have a variety of choices, from traditional miso ramens, to some very innovative ramen consisting of seafood. They claim that their noodles are made fresh the night before and the broth is made in the morning with no MSG. For the ramen, you can also choose to have your noodles soft or hard, and your chashu to be lean or fatty. You can also add side dishes and other toppings for additional costs. Extra noodle is also available for an additional $1.50.
We started off with some appetizers including the Puri-Puri Ebi which is deep fried panko breaded jumbo shrimp served with tartar sauce, sesame, and parsley. The batter was really light and didn’t feel greasy at all. The sauce and seasoning was also not overpowering as you could still taste the sweetness of the shrimp. Great dish for sharing!
The Coco Karaage was also a great deep fried dish. The deep fried house battered boneless chicken karaage was juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The chicken pieces are quite big and a regular order comes with around 4-5 pieces.
Triple Black Garlic Ramen
As for ramen, we tried two of their best sellers. The first was the Triple Black Garlic Ramen which features cha-shu, spinach, seasoned egg, bamboo shoot, roasted seaweed, green onion, garlic chip, and triple black garlic oil served with thin noodles. The egg was cooked perfectly and S chose lean cha-shu which was not overly dry.
As for the noodles, he had chosen hard but we both found the noodles to be more “regular” rather than hard. Our personal preference is for the noodles to be a bit firmer, so when we chose hard, we expected them to be a bit more firm. I liked the thin straight noodles though and these were great at soaking up the broth. The broth was rich but S thought it could be slightly stronger in garlic. I personally thought it was sufficient, but I guess it depends on how much you love garlic.
King’s Seafood Ramen
For myself, I chose the King’s Seafood Ramen. This is their most expensive ramen on the menu at almost $17! But of course, the price is justified with the abundance of ingredients including blue crab, clam, green mussel, cabbage, black tree fungus, onion, red pepper, green pepper, thai chili, and bean sprouts with red pepper powder on top. They definitely do not skimp on the ingredients. Although the blue crab does not have much meat in the legs, you can suck the meat out from the center which was really sweet in flavour. The clams and mussels were also tasty and were not over cooked or tough.
This ramen is served with thicker noodles and I also felt like this bowl was larger than the previous ramen. So definitely the perfect bowl for a big eater! You can choose from no spicy, mild to spicy as well. This one was mild and is great for people who just want a little hint of spice. I typically like my ramen very plain with few ingredients, but this seafood ramen seemed to work and wasn’t too overwhelming.
Overall, I thought Ramen Koika offers some unique twists to ramen, many of which I have not seen in metro Vancouver. I would say that most of the ramen has more ingredients and the bowls are also a decent size for the price. If you’re looking to try more creative ramen, then Ramen Koika is the spot for you. Also a great spot if you have a larger party!