Ramen Danbo: Authentic Japanese noodles with a twist

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Negi-goma Tonkotsku ramen (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Vancouver’s ever-expanding ramen scene can count one more contender for stellar slurp-able noodles and soup. Ramen Danbo, located in Kitsilano on 4th near Burrard, has recently opened its doors, serving up steaming bowls of specialty broth and noodles with a few custom twists.

Ramen Danbo specializes in Fukuoka-style ramen, which is traditional Tonkotsu ramen crafted in the Kyushu Hakata style. This is the first restaurant outside of Japan for the Danbo chain, which launched in 2000.

The two key signature components of Danbo’s ramen are their thin noodles, which are served on the more firm side. Because they lose their elasticity in the hot broth, however, Danbo serves a smaller portion of the noodles in each bowl. Customers then can add an additional serving of noodles, called Kaedama, for $1 for a half-portion and $2 for a full portion.

The noodles at Ramen Danbo are thinner and are served more "al dente"  (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

The noodles at Ramen Danbo are thinner and are served more “al dente” (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

These taut, toothsome noodles swim in a complex house-made broth created by pressure cooking at a high boil using treated water. Danbo set up the kitchen with a NeuG7 “Quantum Water Generator” system, which provides oxygenated and “electron-activated” water used in the broth. The result is a deeply complex “umami” flavour of tonkotsu broth, which, in all but one of the options (the Negi-goma, or Green Onion and Sesame), is further enriched by lard.

Customers can tweak their order in a series of ways to customize their ramen experience. First, at no additional cost, diners select the scale for each of the following: firmness of the noodles, the thickness of the noodle broth, and the amount of lard and spicy tare sauce. Add-ons with an upcharge include soft boiled egg, nori (seaweed), Kikurage (cloud ear mushroom), or extra slices of their supple Yakibuta Chashu Pork.

Gyoza at Ramen Danbo (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Gyoza at Ramen Danbo (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Danbo offers a slender selection of sides, mostly rice-based items, though their pork gyoza are noteworthy for their juicy filling and crispy-crunchy satisfying pan sear.

The din inside Danbo is undeniable; with a staff of native Japanese-speakers calling orders and greetings in traditional style, a small and sparse interior, and a busy open kitchen, it’s fortunate the act of diving your spoon and chopsticks into the glossy brown broth to draw up the noodle, pork, and other savoury bits takes some concentration, as it’s tough to hold a conversation. No matter; odds are much of what you want to say is how tasty each mouthful is, and what delightful snap the noodles have.

Ramen Danbo

Address: 1833 West 4th Avenue, Kitsilano
Phone: 778-379-8977
Website: ramendanbo.com
Hours: Daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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