People say it’s hard to mess up ramen because it’s just broth, and noodles but there’s much more to it. The broth should be made from good ingredients and from scratch, or it’s not going to taste good. My visit to Ramen Sanpachi fell short, and I was disappointed with the broth and questioned it’s authenticity.
We decided to come here since David’s been here before and he liked it. We found meter parking pretty easily. I was a bit confused because in the picture, it looks like Sanpachi is the smaller restaurant on the left, right? But turns out, the right side is part of the restaurant too… talk about change in style. I thought it was two different restaurants, but when I read the hirigana on Google street view (what basic Japanese I know came in handy, heh), it was the same place! Weird.
We were expecting it to be busy since it was Friday evening, but there were only two other tables. When we first came in, I noticed a sign advertising their “Taiwanese beef noodles”… I saw that as a warning sign to its “authenticity” but I decided to overlook it. I also read reviews on Urbanspoon that this place wasn’t authentic, because one of the servers asked if they could speak Chinese to the customer because it was easier. Another person also noted that this place seemed like it tried really hard to be “modern” and had tacky leftover Xmas lights, which I saw. Their decor definitely looked more Taiwanese, like The One or Cattle Cafe in Burnaby. More warning signs.
Here is the ramen menu. They have a story on their background, where they started in Japan and expanded internationally. Their miso broth is their specialty, and to this day, only the family knows exactly what is in the broth. A couple of the ramen dishes on the right let you chose the type of soup base you wait (miso, shoyu, shio, yatai, spicy), and come with more cha-shu pork for an extra $3 which I have never seen before at other ramen joints.
This is where the semi-disappointment begins. I settled on ordering the shio ramen because I wanted a saltier and rich broth. The first thing I noticed was how clear the broth looked, when I’m used to having creamy, and rich broth with my shio ramen. Although Benkei cheaps out on the pieces of meat they give you, they have their broth made really well and I never realized it until I came here. This broth lacked the creamy richness associated with shio ramen. It was also too salty to be tasty. The redeeming qualities about this ramen was that the ramen noodles were cooked al-dente, and their cha-shu pork was lean and there was more than what we got at Benkei . David joked that I should have gotten the noodles that came with a stick of butter, to make it more creamy and rich.
David got the cha shu ramen with miso broth ($13). I was secretly glad he ordered the miso broth since, as I mentioned above, it was their specialty and maybe it’s only the shio broth that was disappointing? His soup tasted better, and wasn’t as salty as mine. It also had more taste. His ramen came with a lot more cha shu, which was lean and well-cut as well unlike the paper thin ones we got at Benkei . If I had known beforehand, I would have ordered the miso broth since it tasted better than mine.
One of the reasons we came here was because we left Benkei Ramen a few weeks ago disappointed and wanting more value. But after coming here, I compared both restaurants and realized that Benkei wasn’t as bad. Benkei’s shio broth was better, but Sanpachi is not stingy when it comes to meat toppings, so take your pick. I have yet to figure out if Sanpachi is authentic or not, because some of the other reviews on Urbanspoon say that the chef is from Japan. After this experience, I think I will just eat at the ramen joints on the West End, at least I know I won’t be disappointed there.