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Table: Motomachi Shokudo

The other week, Anata and I decided to get some ramen for dinner. I said I wanted to go to Motomachi Shokudo, as I haven't had their dark miso ramen for a while. The store is located on Denman between Robson and Georgia. I think that of the triumvirate of ramen shops in that area of town (Motomachi, Santouka, and Kintaro), Motomachi is the smallest. They all have their different styles, and people like to debate about which one is "best" and all that, but I think it's kind of moot point because they cater to slightly different markets.

Motomachi is the one that uses a chicken-based broth, compared to Kintaro and Santouka. That means that their soup is lighter and is supposed to be "healthier" because it has less fat. The other place I know that does this is Marutama Ramen, also nearby. I've never been to Kintaro, so I can't say as to how they really differ. Santouka has a very good pork based ramen, and I do love their pork cheeks for being so tender, but they have small rice bowls and some other little offerings that Motomachi doesn't. Motomachi seems to focus just on the noodle aspect (bar the one little pork rice bowl), and they have their dry cold soba noodles as well which is popular during summertime.

Anyways, the reason why I like going to Motomachi is because they have a dark miso charcoal ramen, which is supposed to be healthier for you because the charcoal has cleansing properties. Charcoal is well-known in Asia for clearing and combating impurities in your system; people at times take things like charcoal tablets if they suspect food indigestion or illnesses instead of tums or pepto like we do here in North America.

Their menu is pretty straightforward as with most ramen places, and they have a "make your own original ramen" if you're looking for something with exactly what you want. Unfortunately they don't offer the charcoal broth as an option for the choose your own adventure, but it's still nice.

The restaurant is small but homey, and artfully decorated. Their menu reads almost like a magazine than a menu, with all the pictures and story background information.

I had a tea, which is served in a nice and heavy cup (no worries about spilling or being dainty here!). Anata ordered water.

My ramen came on a tray with a flower on the side as decoration. It's a very nice touch, though the flower itself is a little wilted (most probably from the cold and from handling/reuse). I like that the restaurant serves the ramen in colour-coded/same pattern bowls depending on what type of ramen that you order. I thought it was a cute touch to see all the bowls lined up and stacked on the counter. I think the charcoal must have been very popular that day as there were only 3 left on the counter whereas there were a good 6+ of all the other types of bowls still stacked.

The soup was wonderfully flavoured and up to the same standard as my past visits. I remember feeling a bit unwell, and Anata took me to this place and I had the charcoal ramen. I guess I've had a warm spot in my stomach for the ramen since then, haha. I don't think there is any other ramen place in Vancouver that currently serves a charcoal-based soup, but maybe I just haven't found it yet. For the meantime, I'm quite happy to get my fix at Motomachi. The taste is certainly lighter because of the chicken stock instead of pork, but that just means that the miso gives it a layered depth that isn't too dense, nor too salty. I find that sometimes to be the case when ordering ramen at other places, where the soup can't quite be enjoyed or savoured thoroughly as it has become very "thick". I like that there are little saffron threads (or so I believe them to be) on top of the toppings, but I'm not sure as I don't really get a saffron taste from them. Artistically they look nice, but ultimately I'm not getting much flavour from them.

I really enjoyed the half-egg that came with the ramen. I'm not too much of an egg fan, but when I do find eggs done well, I just have to give a compliment! The outside white is cooked thoroughly but also still soft and not too hard to eat. The inside is a nice a creamy texture, but still runny (you can see the yolk spilling out as I was trying to balance holding it up and taking a photo with the other hand, haha). The taste is actually very sweet for egg (I find it's usually tasteless or some kind of salted chunky.. thing) and I really enjoyed it with the ramen. Just a sidenote that the ramen doesn't actually come with corn, but you can see corn in the photo because Anata ordered it as a side for his ramen, and I took a helping of it for my ramen.

Anata ordered the shio pork ramen, which just means that it comes with extra servings of pork. The broth is still chicken stock based :). When I tried the soup, it tastes very strongly of chicken. It's definitely a treat and shows the skill of the chefs to create such a pure and rich tasting broth! His ramen, as I said, comes with extra pieces of pork. Mine only had one piece, but I was happy enough with the size and texture of it. It was very soft and tender, and definitely didn't have any "stinky" taste to it!

I love going for ramen here when I'm craving the dark miso ramen. The quality is excellent and I think the prices are very fair considering the quality of the food you get!

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