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Raving about ramen: Marutama’s third location brings a different menu to Main Street

Metro's food reviewer gets on the noodle dish bandwagon

The Aka Ramen at Marutama Gaiden

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The Aka Ramen at Marutama Gaiden

The obsession with ramen arrived in Vancouver back in 2010, when everyone first started singing the gospel of this famous Japanese noodle dish.

Alas, I did not join the masses.

But this is the year I’m exploring new foods, or catching up on those I’ve been slow to adopt. I figured a great place to start was at the new Marutama Gaiden at 2858 Main Street.

This is Marutama’s third restaurant in Vancouver – they also have locations in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Japan. Gaiden means “side-story” in Japanese and this concept restaurant serves up different dishes than the other locations.

I tried the Aka Ramen with a rich red broth of ground nuts and chili, two full prawns, noodles, red and green onions, topped with cilantro and saffron. The onions were undeniably the focus flavour of the dish, calmed down by the cilantro and slow burning spice of the broth.

The noodles were perfectly cooked with a good glutenous bounce and the whole prawns didn’t need to be deshelled because they were so supple. They were absolutely delicious for those who like cilantro and onions. Sorry, those of you who don't: you are missing out.

I also tried the Miso Ramen with a creamy chicken and miso broth, ground chicken, cabbage, corn and topped with sesame. I added an hard boiled egg to the mix. I loved this dish for its rich creamy texture and slightly fermented flavour, like a slight chardonnay flavour. The broth also has a slight spice to it that burns so low you will hardly detect it. It was another exceptionally tasty dish.

The room itself is small with only 16 seats and has a very minimalistic feel. Before it was a cute soup and sandwich shop, but the new owners have completely replaced the interior, with a wood window bar and muted colours on the wall. Nothing is over the top, but the room is pleasant to eat in. The exterior got the greatest makeover with traditional Japanese wood slats wrapping the restaurant. It's definitely visible from the street, but you’ll be hard pressed to see the sign.

The nice thing about the space is that unlike its other locations, that usually have a line-up out the door, this location is smaller and quieter, so you get great service and can really focus on the excellent ramen.

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