Lou and I met for lunch at Yah Yah Ya Ramen. It was the first Japanese meal for both of us since we came back from our trip to Japan in November, and we couldn’t help keep comparing the experience to the ones I had in Japan.
It is indeed a luxury to be seated in a spacial dining room like this at Yah Yah Ya. The Ramen joints in Japan are very tiny, as they are almost like street food in the neighbourhood.
The friendly waitress came over and took our orders. In Japan, you are likely to place your order like using a vending machine at a ramen joint. Although I find punching buttons to order my food quite interesting, but it is a little nicer to be taken care by people. Although quite friendly, I wish they had been a little more attentive on our tea and water.
I had the regular Shoyu Ramen ($9.95). The broth was not too greasy and the flavour was quite decent. It came with some toasted seaweed, Chashu pork, spinach and half of an flavoured egg. The noodles were perfectly al dente. In my opinion it was actually better than the bowl of Ramen I had in Shibuya, in which I found the broth flavour quite salty, although it couldn’t beat the one I had at a small family ramen joint in Hakone. But overall, like a lot of places in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, the ramen here is definitely on par with what you generally get in Japan.
Lou ordered his favourite type, the regular Black Ramen ($11.25). The black in the black ramen bowl usually refers to the black garlic paste. We were both surprised to see that the broth was not black at all, and there was only a small batch of the black garlic sauce hidden under the seaweed.
We ordered a few sides to share as well. Tow of them were the ones we missed a lot having in Japan, but the versions here were far from what we expected. The Mentaiko had a paste like texture, and it seemed to be rather the extra sauce for the ramen than a side for snacking. We were a little disappointed because the mentaiko snacks were so common and so delicious in Japan. The Onigiri rice balls were nowhere near the ones we had in Japan as well. The rice was very bland. However the Gyoza dumplings were fried properly and also quite tasty.
As the first Japanese meal we had after our trip to Japan, although the dining experience was very different from the ones in Japan, the ramen noodle bowls were quite decent at Yah Yah Ya. The ramen shops, especially the ones owned and operated by Japanese, are actually quite good in Vancouver, as taking pride of what they are doing and keep up with the quality is always part of their culture. However, the small items like mentaiko or onigiri, were not nearly close to what we had in Japan. Those are definitely the must-try things when you travel to Japan!