Drinkable Pork Bones at their best—Nagahama Ramen at Menya Japanese Noodle

By Tana Kosiyabong

Authentic Tonkutsu Noodle Soup, Menya’s Nagahama Ramen

For years, my go-to Japanese Ramen was Kintaro on Denman street because I used to work in the Coal Harbour area. But now that I’ve become a freelancer, I haven’t had a chance to visit to Kintaro in the past six months. It’s about time to find a new Ramen shop to fill my craving belly.

Menya Japanese Noodle wasn’t just a convenient choice; the restaurant also had a nod of approval from Nancy, my food-loving co-worker who told me about the $5 lunch box at New India. So I headed to Menya on a Cheap Appetite mission during my lunch break last week.

The restaurant is located at the Northwest corner of West Broadway and Yukon, a few blocks away from my office. When I walked inside, Menya was already filled with patrons. Fortunately a couple of window bar seats were still available. All the seats were made of logs which were comfortable enough to sit on while enjoying the ramen. However they weren’t designed for a long stay.

I quickly glanced at the menu and decided to go with the Nagahama Ramen ($6.95) because it was on the top of the list and it was one of the cheapest.

According to rameniac.com, the top three ramen styles in Japan are Tokyo, Sapporo and Hakata. However, the ramen from Nagahama, the district near Hakata (which, in case you go looking for them, are both in the city of Fukuoka), has a mellower flavor, bleach white soup, and topped with nori (roasted seaweed). Both Hakata and Nagahama soup are made with pork bones boiled over high heat for extended periods. In this way, the essence of the bone and bone marrow will be infused into the soup; hence the rich, cloudy, porky broth. Hakata and Nagahama ramen are mostly served without added shoyu-tare (soy sauce soup base), but it is often available on the table for those who need seasoning.

Nagahama Ramen at Menya Japanese Noodle

Anyway, back to my Nagahama Ramen at Menya: at first glance, the ramen broth was pale brown instead of bleach white. But this didn’t catch me off guard. The menu mentioned shoyu in the description. Menya caters to many non-Japanese patrons. It’s probably best for the restaurant to season the soup rather than leaving it in the hands of no-clue foreigners like myself.

Before stirred in all the toppings, I first sipped the soup as it was. It was like some kind of drinkable pork bone, which is a pretty appealing thing for carnivores like me. The delicate soup was mildly salted and creamy, yet not greasy at all. There was no oil floating around in the bowl, and the bone marrow made the broth nice and smooth. I felt as if I were floating through flavorful clouds, savoring every bit of the delicate taste in my mouth. This collagen-rich soup is, in my humble opinion, probably better for your skin than freakin’ botox injections. Although I’m sure many six-figured salary plastic surgeons would argue otherwise.

The toppings of Menya’s Nagahama ramen include two thick pieces of cha-shu, Japanese roast pork. The meat was deliciously marinated and each bite was quite tender. The julienned wood ear mushrooms and thin-sliced bamboo shoots added fun textures to the dish. Green onion flavor complemented the mild, mellow soup very well. The magenta pickled ginger brightened up the overall flavor profile and gave a little kick to this tasty drinkable pork bone.

The noodles were thin, somewhat curly and well-cooked. Along with the creamy soup, they went down smoothly. I was full once the noodles had all disappeared into my gluttonous belly. Regrettably, some delicious broth was still left in the bowl.

For those who eat like sumo wrestlers, Menya has an option called Kaedama ($1.50 each portion) which allows you to order extra portions of cooked noodles to eat with the left over broth. Theoretically, as long as you still have some broth left in the bowl, you can order as many extra noodles portions as you’d like. However, if you’re going to go for the Kaedama, please don’t ask for it at the same time you order the noodle soup; otherwise the extra noodles will be overcooked by the time you get to them. You’ll be better off to wait until you’re almost finished with the noodles in your bowl before you exercise your option. Timing is the key here. Oh, btw, I believe you’re not allowed to order Kaedama to take home with your leftover soup. Hey, I know how you cheapos operate — after all, I am King of the cheapos.

Menya’s Nagahama Ramen: ©©© 3/4

Menya Japanese Noodle is located at 401 W. Broadway Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (T) 604.725.9432

BUDGET BREAKDOWN:

Remaining Budget: $101.72

Budget Spent: -$6.95 (not included HST)

Budget Available: $94.77

MENYA JAPANESE NOODLE MENU (as of September 2010)

Menya Menu as of September 2010

©2010 Tana Kosiyabong and CheapAppetite.com™. All rights reserved.

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15 thoughts on “Drinkable Pork Bones at their best—Nagahama Ramen at Menya Japanese Noodle

  1. I used to go to kintaro too. but then sometimes it’s just hard to get seat in there. so i gave it up long time ago for benkei……until i realized their portion was getting smaller for some reason.
    now, i’ve gotta give menya a try!

    1. Yup. Kintaro is usually busy. Menya ambient is better. I don’t feel like I have to eat fast so other people who wait in line can eat too. 🙂 I think I’ve been to Benkei twice. The ramen were yummy too. There are many Japanese noodle shops in Vancouver. Lucky us.

  2. Boohoo!! No ramen for a vegetarian! Although I think that would be an oxymoron, so I’ll stick with my udon.

    How does one “infuse” with marrow? Do they use an immersion blender?

    1. Maybe you can try the ramen salad there Tiffany. The menu description didn’t mention any meat in the dish. but who knows. 🙂 But the pork bone soup is definitely off limit. I haven’t had ramen made with veggie stock before so I don’t know if they are good.

      They use high heat to infuse all the goodies in the bone into the stock i think. According to rameniac, they boiled those bones over the heat for many hours. Maybe infuse is not the right word?

  3. i think i’ve been to just about all ramen houses except this one. I just haven’t had the opportunity, now that winter is around the corner, its time to grab some nourishing ramen and delicious broth so I hope to drag my fav colleague to this place soon. Oh by the way, I thought the new font on your website seems a little difficult to read, just my opinion though.

    1. What’s your favorite ramen shop in Vancouver imkoonta? We’re fortunate to have many of them. Let me know how you like Menya. Thanks for the tip on the new font. I’m experimenting it, but hard to read is not good. Gotta change it back soon. 🙂

  4. Tana, my fav ramen house is Santouka on Robson St. It does break the bank a little as they charge a lot for a bowl but their spicy noodle soup which is the thick broth is so worth it and they serve pork jowl and those are to die for. I also love the unique common sharing table, its an odd shape but very functional.

    1. Ahh… I have never tried Santouka because they are a tad pricier than kintaro. As you know, I’m cheap. lol. But maybe I should give it a try if I’m in the neighborhood next time 🙂

    1. Thanks Grayelf. hmmm. I thought I did change the font back to what it used to be when imkoonta told me. It looks ok on my mac. But maybe I should go back to the orginal font from wordpress instead of playing with the typekit font. Let me check on a PC. I’ll try to fix it soon, I promise 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!

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