“If at first the idea doesn’t sound absurd, then there is no hope for it.” - Albert Einstein
For as long as I could remember, visits to Japan have consisted of having piping hot bowls of ramen noodles during the fall and winter season, or cold tsukemen noodles dipped into a broth in the spring and summer season. Japanese noodles without soup? I would think that at first the idea was quite absurd.
“Maze” means “to mix” in Japanese, and Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba serves up bowls of noodles with generous amounts of toppings, which you would then mix together for an indulgent and delicious bowl of noodles.
Japanese Chef Takuma Ishikawa created Kokoro Mazesoba in Tokyo Japan in 2013, and it is now th largest mazesoba chain in the world, with locations all over Japan, indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the latest newcomer, a store in Vancouver as their first store in North America. The chain has their eyes on expanding to Europe next year with a location in Spain.
Needless to say, Japan, and the rest of the world, are loving their mazesoba noodles.
With the Vancouver store, the team had doubts about opening in such a large location, given they were not sure the market would adopt the mazesoba taste, since it is heavier than other noodles. From what we observed, the Vancouver market obviously loves the new experience, as it was packed on the late weekday afternoon when we visited.
Numerous stools are laid out in the waiting area, and the good news is that the turnover is quite fast, so you are not a far wait away from a tasty bowl of mazesoba. The featured Mazesoba is the Zenbu Mazesoba, which includes a lengthy list of tasty ingredients: slow-braised pork chashu, spicy minced pork, raw egg yolk, seaweed, soft boiled egg, combo shoot, seaweed flakes, chives, green onion, minced garlic, grinded saba fish and multi-grain noodle made in house.
The soba noodles are made fresh daily with multi-grain flour, and the soy-based sauce to go with the noodles are all imported from Tokyo to ensure an authentic taste.
For those who opt for traditional ramen, there are a few options to choose from as well. There is the traditional pork bone broth ramen, or you can experience the rich and creamy Tonokotsu Tomato Ramen, a Japanese tomato pork broth, served with juicy cherry tomatoes, soft-boiled eggs and thick cuts of slow-braised cha shu, and thin ramen noodles. If you love a heavier soup but feel other tomato soup options are too ‘sour’, this soup highlights the sweetness of tomatoes and has a hint more pork broth to it.
The special insider tip to note for the Vancouver store is that it’s one of the specialty stores that has the infamous soft serve ice cream on the menu. The team sourced the machines and recipes from the popular soft serve brand Cremia in Japan, so that’s why the presentation will look familiar to Cremia fans. Note that the taste will be slightly different since they do not use Hokkaido milk in this recipe due to the high import costs. Despite the slightly different recipe, who wouldn’t enjoy a creamy milk soft serve?
These indulgent soft serves are made one by one and the special ovens imported from Japan can only bake two of the thin, crispy cones at one time.
Whether for lunch of dinner, Kokoro Mazesoba is the perfect comfort meal to experience something new from the Japanese culture. Mazesoba is a delightful alternative that is rich in flavour and light on the wallet! We are glad that Chef Takuma Ishikawa decided to pursue this vision in 2013, as it has given the world a new Japanese taste that we hope will soon be spread to the far corners of the world!
551 Seymour Street, Vancouver
Photos by Florence Leung