On a cloudy summer morning we arrive at Marutama on Bidwell Street in downtown Vancouver, the wooden plank exterior and large logo emblem on the door beckoning.
We pull back the dense wooden door into a cozy ramen shop, with a communal table, seats lined along the windows and kitchen bar.
Sachiko the shop manager greets us warmly at the entrance and shows us the soup station in the kitchen, the noodle bar where a diligent staff makes fresh ramen with the help of a machine. We are amazed by her pace as she fills up platters upon platters of freshly made ramen in record time.
We sit down in a brightly-lit corner of the shop facing the street, natural light warming the countertop. Sachiko brings over the shop's signature Tamago Ramen, steam rising from the rich chicken broth. The chicken broth is the perfect comfort food on a cloudy day, and definitely sleep-inducing. The aosa soaks up the essence of the broth, and takes the taste of the ramen to a whole new level. The soft boiled Ajitama retains a semi-runny yolk, a further demonstration of how these chefs have perfected their signature ramen.
She sets down the traditional egg omelette, Dashimaki, for us as an appetizer. This is followed by the flavourful Kakuni side dish, tender, slow-braised pork belly featuring a perfect balance of fatty juices and marinated to perfection.
Sachiko serves up a second, larger bowl of ramen - their Cha Shu Ramen, loaded with sliced Cha Shu in steaming hot chicken broth. At this point we are already holding our bellies but instinctively we craved more of the chicken broth. We managed to finish all of the food kindly offered to us, and thanked them profusely for the warm service they gave us.
We were both so full and satisfied from this brunch meal we didn't end up having dinner and will probably end up becoming regulars at Marutama. Overall, this is a highly recommended spot with 2 locations in downtown Vancouver serving up a welcomed innovation to traditional ramen broth. Read on for our Q&A with their Vancouver General Manager Tatsushi Koizumi.
Marutama Q&A With Tatsushi
1 / Marutama started in 2001 in Kawaguchi, Japan. What inspired Mr Tetsuya Kudo to start this and what is his vision for Marutama? What inspired him to open his own ramen shop?
He is a chef, he wanted to satisfy customers and as many people as he can with his creativity.
Once Marutama became popular in Japan, he wanted to let people abroad try his ramen, and expanded to Singapore and beyond.
2 / Compared to the common pork bone soup base used by other ramen shops, how did Marutama come up with its signature chicken broth?
Because Chicken is the most common meat any type of religion people can eat, kids and elder people are comfortable to eat, so we can satisfy as many people as we can.
4 / How long does it usually take to prepare the broth and what are the key elements that make it so unique?
5 ~ 6 hours to boil with lots of chicken for concentrated UMAMI.
5 / The texture and taste of the ramen noodles in Marutama is very different from regular ramen. We see that it is made in-house before the shop opens each day. What makes it so special?
Most other ramen shops use frozen noodle from the US, which contains lots preservatives so shops can keep it for a longer time. We believe that key point of taste is “freshness”, and not using preservatives to sustain a longer shelf life. Our ramen is freshly made and consumed daily.
6 / We took shots of your signature Tamago Ramen and Cha-Shu ramen, what makes them your signature?
Same simple concept as home made noodle, we asked our suppliers to provide most fresh ingredients, and prepare only the amount we predict we will serve per day. We do not use any special seasoning. Marutama Ramen is made of the small things which are very natural as restaurant. We are always aiming to serve higher quality to our customers.
7 / What’s next for Marutama?
We are planning a spin-off Ramen restaurant with different menu from Marutama Ra-men and we are planning to open in October in the Mount Pleasant area.
8 / Anything else our readers should know about Marutama?
Marutama Ra-men Canada was not very popular or busy like nowadays when we first started, it took long time to get here. Customers, Suppliers, Partner companies and Media like you, without your warm support we wouldn’t be here. We always appreciate support from these groups and march forward with them.