For lil’ bun’s birthday we decided to head on over to Vancouver to get a bowl of Japanese ramen noodles for dinner. I didn’t know that Kokoro ramen existed until recently but apparently they opened not too long ago.
It’s located at a main street intersection so if you’re coming during peak hours, parking may be difficult.
The exterior of the restaurant resembles ramen shops in Japan.
And of course, the exterior of the restaurant had a display case with their menu and plastic models of ramen offerings.
Upon entering the restaurant, you’re greeted by a painting of the Japanese character for “heart” which is what “kokoro” means.
Andmat the back of the restaurant, there is a counter which is part of the kitchen area.
From the exterior of the restaurant none of us would of guessed that it would look so modern and woodsy on the inside. There were separate dining tables around the outside but a group ramen bar area with a larger table is located in the center of the restaurant
The menu came in two sheets. One was the ramen menu and the other was the dessert/drink one.
The ramen menu offered 5 varieties of ramen. What I liked about it was that they didn’t only offer chashu as the “star” of the ramen. They also had a chicken ramen and a vegetable ramen.
Like most ramen joints, they offer you with the option to create combos by adding on a rice bowl or salad to your ramen.
They actually have two more types of ramen, a salmon one and a yuzu one. These weren’t available yet which was disappointing because I was looking forward to trying one of the two.
We decided to try one of each type of ramen (except the spicy tonkotsu one because we figured it’d be the same as the regular one minus the heat.)
Starting from the left going clockwise is the tonkotsu ramen, veggie ramen, bubble ramen, shoyu ramen and the chicken ramen.
One thing they did unique here was put a nori heart on top of your ramen. It was cute for a while until you finish taking all your pictures and all you’re left with is a limp sad piece of nori on your noodles.
Anyways, this was the shoyu ramen. Mother deer said it wasn’t as salty as the ones she’s had in the past but it was still a little too salty for her. To be fair, I asked if she wanted to request it “less salty” since it was an option on the menu but she ignored me so that’s on her. With that being said, everyone else at the table enjoyed it just fine.
Next up was the bubble ramen. Apparently this is the ramen to get here so we had to give it a go. The broth was foamy on the top and reminded me of beer foam. Luckily, it didn’t actually taste like beer at all! We were all curious about how this broth would differ from any broth we’ve ever had before.
So what’s the difference between the bubble ramen and all of their other ones? Well, it takes creamy to a whole new level and I don’t mean in a rich pork-fat creamy way. It’s more like they added cream of mushroom or whipped heavy cream to the broth. Another difference is that they use a thin ramen noodle that more closely resembles soba noodles.
Then came the creamy chicken ramen which was a nice change to all the pork we were having. The soup was creamy and at first we thought that it would be strong in coconut flavor but it wasn’t too prominent.
What we liked the best about this bowl of ramen was that the chicken was presented in large slices almost as though it was a chicken version of chashu. This helped the chicken stay nice and tender instead of becoming tough
After having a few bowls of meat-based ramen, having the veggie one arrive at the table was a welcomed change. It had lots of corn nibbles, salad greens, grilled zucchini and kabocha slices and broccoli florets.
The pumpkin soup was very thick and this made it really filling. I can see how some people may be put off by it because it’s not what you’d expect when it comes to noodle soup but I didn’t mind because I love me some kabocha squash
Last but not least was the tonkotsu ramen. The broth was very rich but not so much so that you feel greasy after eating a vew bites.
The chashu was prepared well and the thing that lil’ bun noticed about the chashu here was that it had lots of meat on it and wasn’t a fatty cut. We’re one of those people who tend to take the fat off the meat before consumption which usually means you lose out on a lot of the product but since the slices were lean, it was worth it.
The cost of the ramen here may be a little pricier than most places because they’re $12.50 a bowl WITHOUT egg and adding an egg is $2 (which we thought was absurd) but the amount of meat you get and the uniqueness of the broth made it worth the visit.