I've been a big fan of Kintaro's for years, but I saw postings inside advertising their little sister restaurant just a block away. The organic factor was also a big draw, as I was looking for something a little healthier than a big bowl of fatty tonkotsu ramen. Not to mention the other competitor down the road, Benkei, is way too salty for my tastes.
I have to say, it was love at first bite.
The spicy chicken ramen has a huge amount of vegetables unlike any other ramen place I've been to in the WOLRD, not just Vancouver. The leeks and lotus root were delicious additions to a great bowl of noodles and a heavenly broth that was not at all oily and MSG-free. I was impressed with the balance between vegetables, noodles, and broth, as unlike Kintaro, I almost always finish all three elements of the dish at the same time. Another important thing to me is the consistency, and Motomachi is very, very consistant. Every bowl of ramen has been just as good as the last.
On visits closer to the summer I also tried out the cold ramen, which has a surprising twist of raw egg and grated taro root, and extra noodles. The base is nice and sweet and a perfect summer flavour, but some might be put off with the slimy consistency from the egg and taro root. The texture is very reminiscent of real sukiyaki, as is the flavour, but as a delightful cool dish perfectly geared for Vancouver summers. I prefer this version to Kintaro's, but my boyfriend is more of a fan of Kintaro's style of cold ramen. Another visit included a tasting of the new-generation miso ramen, but I find the flavour is a little too meek compared to the bold offering from Kintaro. The garnishing is better, but Kintaro's strongest draw is its wonderfully flavoured miso broth and Motomachi isn't as aggressive with its broth flavour in this case.
The 3rd aspect of Motomachi is the comfort level. This is definitely more in line with Benkei, albeit within a much tinier space, but you don't have big boiling pots making the restaurant unbearably humid. All in all the comfort level is way higher than Kintaro and less claustrophobic in its layout. My only gripe is sitting at the tables nearest to the doors on a brisk day, because you can really feel the breeze in such a tiny little restaurant. The service is mid-level, with the waitresses passive-aggressively pushing the (admittedly tasty) boiled eggs, but they are fairly efficient managing customers and food comes within 5 minutes. They are also less in a rush to force you out of your seat, unlike at Kintaro with its seemingly eternal lineups. Although the price is higher than competing restaurants, I feel the extra dollar or two over Kintaro is justified by that perfect ratio of meat, vegetables, noodles, and broth, and the fact that the soup doesn't leave me disgustingly thirsty like the average pho joint or Benkei.
In short: Motomachi is a must-try for ramen lovers, especially the spicy chicken ramen. This is a definitive Vancouver-style ramen joint with its own personality, and a bowl that leaves you bursting full without leaving an oily, salty aftertaste in your mouth from cheap soup.