G-Men Ramen Shop: Superb noodles, So-so pudding
#1101-3778 Sexsmith Rd, Richmond
British Columbia, Canada
Opened by the owners of the famous Gyoza King, G-Men Ramen Shop is everything that it’s cracked up to be, well, except for the supposed ‘Melty Pudding,’ but more on that later.
I have a huge soft spot for ramen noodles, I survived on the stuff as a starving intern at a publishing house during my university days. Something about the thick, curly, chewy noodles is both extremely comforting and very addictive. So I am always on the prowl for a good ramen joint. In Vancouver, there are two places to go for amazing, top notch ramen: Kintaro (recently reviewed by my fellow foodie blogger at I’m Only Here for the Food) and G-Men. The name makes it sound like a superhero comic book, and this place really should be considered the hero of ramen, churning out quality noodles in flavourful broth and topped with traditional Japanese ingredients.
I ordered the classic Tonkotsu Ramen: thick ramen noodles cooked in pork soup and topped with BBQ pork, seaweed and black wood ear mushrooms and green onions. I also requested an extra topping of cheese. I love the fact that cheese is so prevalent in Japanese cuisine such as ramen, sushi rolls (Philadelphia rolls) and appetizers (oyster motoyaki). Cheese is nearly non-existent in other Asian cuisines.
The Tonkotsu did not disappoint. The noodles were as thick as promised on the menu, they were firm but chewy and soaked up all the delicious saltiness in the broth. I know how much the slice of cheese in the picture resembles a Kraft cheese slice but the melted creaminess of the cheese really added a comforting texture to the noodles and a creamy cloudiness to the broth. I’m not a real fan of black wood mushrooms but the strips in the Tonkotsu gave each mouthful of noodles some more depth; the crunchiness in the mushrooms also contrasted nicely with the gooey melted bits of cheese sticking onto the noodles and pork. The slices of BBQ pork were tender and I could definitely taste the BBQ smokiness but the pork was sliced a bit on the thin side. Kintaro definitely serves their Tonkotsu with thicker pieces of fatty pork.
We also ordered the dinner special, the Tan Tan noodles: noodles cooked in pork soup and flavoured with house made spicy sesame and peanut sauce. They weren’t kidding when they said spicy, the spicy heat from the noodles really hits you in the back of the throat and unsuspectingly prickles the taste buds. The ramen noodles in the Tan Tan were perfectly al dente though and as much as the sauce was spicy, it was balanced by the fresh, crisp crunch of the green onions, the mild saltiness from the seaweed and the nutty sweetness of the peanut sauce. The heaviness from the peanut sauce did make this dish much more filling than the Tonkotsu though.
We were almost too full to eat the gyozas- which we thought was mandatory since we were dining at a restaurant opened by the owners of Gyoza King. The pork gyozas were perfectly pan fried, nice and crispy on the bottom and moist and flavourful on the inside. They were a tad heavy on the chives but other than that, I loved that they didn’t ‘over-stuff’ these delicate little gyozas with filling.
We were about to get the bill when I noticed a sign on the wall advertising ‘homemade melty pudding, limited time only.’ I am a dupe for two things: anything melty (cheese, chocolate, cream) and anything offered for a limited time. There were even dates under this sign that stated this supposed special pudding was only offered during the holiday season, the waitress told us that the pudding was only made in anticipation of the new year. In her broken English, she also said something about caramel. I was sold! So we ordered one pudding to share between us. First off, when I saw the word melty, I was really expecting something thick, creamy, gooey, rich and warm not an ice cold jelly-mold. After one spoonful, my friend gave up but I forged on. And after a few more spoonfuls in the shallow little cup, I finally unearthed the liquid caramel sauce at the bottom. And upon flipping over the bottom bits of this pudding to discover the golden caramel bottom, we concluded that this so-called ‘melty’ pudding was really a reverse creme caramel. That’s really how it should have been advertised!
I don’t usually discuss utensils on my blog but I love the spoon that came with the Tan Tan noodles. The holes allow the spicy broth to drain out so you just have one perfectly seasoned spoonful of noodles to gobble up, minimizing slurp and splatter. Genius! I really have to find out where these spoons are sold!