Ramen and Poutine at Haikan

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I noticed something recently about Vancouverites. Whenever the weather gets particularly chilly, raining and biting, we tend to swarm to our favorite ramen/pho place. Something about a hot, steaming bowl of noodles just comforts the soul.

The weather in DC has been quite chilly recently, and being the Vancouverite that I am, I sought out a ramen place. Haikan opened recently in Shaw, which is a growing foodie hub in the city. Haikan specializes in Sapporo style ramen and also features a wide range of small plates. I loved the atmosphere at the restaurant, particularly the minimalistic blonde wood furnishing, and the long communal bar wrapped around the open kitchen. It’s quite cozy and I love the open kitchen.

It’s so clean and I can see everything! Open kitchens like this makes me feel safe eating there, for sure. And I just like to watch the chefs cook and see what other patrons are ordering.

Japanese Mapo Tofu Poutine. I love this Japanese-Chinese-Canadian fusion! They used ground chicken here, though traditionally Mapo Tofu is made with ground pork, but the flavor here is quite meaty and salty. The generous scallions on top also added some spice to the dish. This was so indulgent and cheesy, but the scallion on top kept everything light as well, so it was not food coma-inducing.

Miso ramen. Okay, I have mixed feelings about the ramen. First of all, the nitamago was golden, luscious, yolky and just yum! The chashu was tender and decent-sized, but I wish it was more flavorful. My problem with the ramen was the stock. The menu says the miso ramen uses a lighter miso and that all their ramen uses “chintan,” which is a lighter stock that contains chicken, beef and pork. With all these different meat stock mixed in, I was expecting layers of flavor and just so comforting I want to curl up and sleep on the bar stool I was sitting on. Err, no. The soup stock did not have that complex flavor, instead what I tasted was the bean sprouts. The sprouts here were quickly wok-fried with ground pork and peppers and some of the soup stock I think. The stock had a very strong peppery flavor, a little oil from the sprouts, but I couldn’t quite taste the meat stock.

Maybe I should have chosen a ramen option with heartier stock, but for some reason I just didn’t get the warm me to the bone experience at Haikan.

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