Kintaro is a ramen noodle house in the West End.
Kintaro is one of those places that are too good, but scare people away because of their claustrophobicly small location and long lineups outisde. It is rare to walk past by it an not see crowds of people lined up. I don't know if it is on purpose, but going in groups is the last thing you want to do there. Get your food, and get out.
Don't mean to be cynical, but part of the meal is how much you enjoy it. The noodles are excellent, one of the best I've had from all the places I have tried in Vancouver (miso, spicy garlic ramen), but I just wish I wasn't so rushed all the time.
Kintaro has been a staple for me as long as I can remember. It serves classic ramen noodles in the most tasty and inventive ways. While there are the standard options to choose from, it is also home to the cheese ramen. Not for the faint hearted, it is actually quite thick, and the broth is a little too salty for my taste (apparently not for my bf's). Im not much of a cheese fan; the spicy garlic option is much tastier in my opinion.
And while the ramen is one of the best I've had, the experience could do with a little improvement. At least in my most recent experience. Service is extremely slow and the server can be a little disinterested in serving you sometimes. Going in groups of more than 3 is a problem, as the place is tiny and is full of people. We always have to wait to get seated and once inside it is quite narrow and cramped which makes one get claustrophobic.
Visited Kintaro with some friends, and like the previous reviewers noted, there was a small line-up as the number of tables were limited in this tiny place. However, the turn-over was pretty fast, so we were seated in about 15 - 20 min. Like many cafes in Japan, we had to share a table with some other parties.
The FOOD: was ok. We tried the gyozas which were pretty standard. I wouldn't order them again. The BBQ pork (found in the ramen and as an appetizer that we ordered) is different from the red ones you find at Chinese restaurants. This version is almost blanched, but still tasty. I ordered the miso ramen (medium soup with lean pork) and it was a good, generous portion. If anything, I found the soup to be too salty, but the noodles were the best ramen noodles I've ever had. There are also bits of lard in the soup, so if you're watching your cholesterol, this might not be the place for you.
Service was quick, polite and friendly. Prices were fairly reasonable.
Went there few yrs ago and started going again this yr. Nothing has really changed. I like ordering their miso or sea salt base soup but now I'm into CHEESE RAMEN! I always thought it was a weird thing to eat cuz cheese in noodle soup? Wha...? But I remember that first bite very well, it was heavenly! They were right, like the menu says, "the ladies loooove it!" Haha, so true!
Like the previous reviewer said, does the soup contain MSG? I'm always very thirsty after eating this delicious bowl of ramen. And it's kinda annoying b/c after that big bowl of ramen, I don't have any stomach space for drinks. And I don't like the fact that I'm eating something w/ MSG unless it's instant noodles!
Mrs. C and I went with a couple of friends to have the famous ramen of Kintaro. It was not what I expected. The restaurant was super-crowded, and full of steam from the giant vats of broth. After a few minutes, we were seated at the counter, and I kept trying not to sneeze, since there was nothing between my face and the vats except 2 feet of thin air...The place could have been cleaner, but I expect the condensation was rinsing everything (sort of).
We had a variety of ramen bowls, including pork with rich broth, pork with medium broth, vegetarian and cheese. We also tried the the appetizer bowl of pork chunks, the kimchee, and the gyoza. I thought the gyoza was terrific, and the pork chunks (leftovers from the stock pot) were a tasty meat treat. The kimchee was reported to be good, but I have no taste for it. As for the ramen, the noodles had a nice texture, but the broth was way too salty. The pork bits and bean sprouts in the broth were fine. The rest of the contents could not be readily identified.
Service was good throughout the meal, and I credit the servers with working hard to keep up with the orders and to survive in the congested, sauna-like environment. As for value, it wasn't expensive especially since our generous friend picked up the tab.
I am not sure if I will ever return, but for some perverse reason I want to try the cheese flavor, if my cholesterol level can withstand it.
Be sure to drink lots of water.
If you love ramen (japanese noodles), you'll enjoy dining at Kintaro. It's a really small place and line-ups are pretty normal, so be prepared to wait to be seated (outdoors). Serving sizes are great, but the service is a little lacking. I felt a little squished together with all the other tables. The food is enough to get me back there.
Love the miso ramen. The shio, shoyu, and forest fire ramen are okay. Rich soup with lean meat (typically 2-3 slices and varies depending on the order, with or without a hardboiled egg, etc.) or medium soup with lean meat is the way to go for stronger flavours. The old guy seems to be absent of late, probably in the new Richmond location in a little narrow plaza on Westminister. The standard shio/shoyu/miso ramen are priced at $6.95 per bowl, as is the Saturdays-only Special Forest Fire Ramen. The BBQ Pork shio/shoyu soup ramen is about a dollar more (with about twice the amount of meat given). A bottle of beer is just under $5. There are also a few side dishes one may order, such as gyoza.
Usually a line-up during typical meal hours. Each sitting seems to range from 15-20 minutes max. Usually, what takes up 5-10 of those minutes is the wait for the noodles to be cooked then served to you. It's a place to slurp up your noodles quickly then get up to do some shopping, etc., to walk off all that pork fat while you let the next hungry guys have their turn.
Tables and the bar isn't the cleanest since it's usually a quick towel through before the seat gets a chance to cool down, it's occupied once again. Bowls and tables are oily due to the constant contact with fatty oily soup and equally oily fingers.
The ambiance is perfect for a quicky noodle house. It may be deserving of 4-5 stars for setting the mood precisely for the type of cuisine and service you're going for--grease and all (of course, it's not as bad as it might sound!). A must try and see for yourself! :)
Kintaro's is a small Japanese style diner on the east side of Denmen near Robson. There isn't a lot of seating but even if the place is full, its worth the wait as the turnover is fairly fast and the soup is awesome. I had some gyoza, miso ramen, and a side of pork. As it turns out, this was way too much and I could have done without the side of pork and possibly even the gyoza.
We sat at the bar and found the preparation and cooking process interesting. The chef actually tastes the broth in each bowl. The noodles looked homemade, although I didn't ask whether they were or not. The end result was very tasty; the best ramen I have had in recent memory.
If you are looking for takeout or a vegetarian ramen, look elsewhere as Kintaro's doesn't do that. They specialize in pork soup bases and they do it well. I will be going back soon on a Saturday to try their Forest Fire ramen which is supposed to be outstanding.
This is the go-to place for ramen in the Lower Mainland. Large bowls of wholesome goodness. Great noodles, great broth, great fatty chasu. Previous reviewers described the food and ambiance quite well so I don't have much to add. Last Saturday, we beat the pre-dinner rush and snagged three seats at the counter. A line ten deep quickly formed and I was impressed to see how quickly the queue moved. The waitresses scribbled down peoples' orders while they waited and once seated, their bowls of ramen were ready. It was cool seeing pure japanese efficiency at work. Polite and courteous service to boot. We were in and out in less than 30 minutes. Left very satisfied and can't wait to go back.
So i tried this place for the first time and i have to say wow, There gyozas are excellent and there miso ramen is damned good, now i noticed a previous review that said it was too oily? pfft... thats your own fault.. seeing as how you can pick the thickness of the broth rich, medium, light and if you want fat on the bbq pork (fat makes the ramen oily) Everything was pretty tasty. The only problem was we ate in and afterwards since the ramen bowl was huge! I asked for a take out container and they said they didnt have any.... a tad odd? I noticed the place was mostly asian which is usually a good sign.. but it was the first time (Me being caucasian) That i actually felt a little out of place and uncomfortable.. it seems if i wanted something extra they were out or couldnt accomodate me. Anyways food... good ramen bowls range from 7 - 7.95$ which is good value for what you get.. i honestly just felt a little pushed aside (seated right by the door on the furthest part of the counter when there were better tables) So anyways still great food... worth a try. Ambience was blah, value was solid.
I believe this is very rich soup, the noodles... do they use enriched wheat flour, canola oil and or other poor ingredients? I know I know... it's cheap but still. After doing research on ramen, not sure if I can go back...
Staff are nice, like the greetings they give :)
Portions are good.
Kintaro Ramen gives you the perfect combination of good food at a good price. It is the place I go to devotedly if I want ramen. The shio ramen is unparalleled - it comes with green onions, bean sprouts and BBQ pork. The place is kind of crowded and many times you have to share table with others, but I don't mind. A lot of people complain that it gets too hot inside but its like they say, you get what you pay for!
Food: It tastes pretty good. It is authentic and doesn't taste like Chinese ramen if you know what I mean. The texture of the noodles is very good. It's al dente like Italians say about their pasta. There's 3 big thick pieces of pork in the bowl. Meat is very tender. Unlike other cheapskate restaurants in this city, Kintaro is very generous when it comes to portion and toppings. The only thing I notice is that the broth can be greasier than ramen from other Japanese restaurants in major US cities. I always thought Japanese food is not greasy, at least that's what Japanese food is like in major US cities. Nevertheless, it's still yummy.
Service: They are polite. Service is fast enough.
Value: I only rated 3 because the seating situation is so bad. You will know why when you read the following.
Ambiance: Ugh! The store is very cramped. You either sit at the bar or share table with bunch of strangers. Talking about awkward. You better pray you don't sit next to some nosy jerks eavesdropping your conversation or rude weirdos staring at you like they never know what etiquette means.
Because the store is so small. They can only accommodate a few customers. As soon as you put down chopsticks, they give you a check hinting you to pay and leave ASAP. You certainly have to leave right away because there are bunch of customers standing there waiting. Sitting there for more than 2 minutes after putting down chopsticks will make you the public enemy. LOL!
I am never that kind of person who likes to hang out in the restaurant. I finish my meal and I leave. But being rushed and hurried to leave is kind of abusive. I don't think sitting there for extra 5 minutes after you finish you meal is asking too much. Frankly, I don't think anybody wants to sit in a dirty restaurant for too long. But you need to digest your food and drink some water or tea by sitting there for just a few minutes more, don't you?
The store is kind of dirty. It's cramped. And you have to share tables. That really makes dining experience unpleasant. It doesn't have the best location anyway. Kintaro Ramen is already famous. I don't see why they can't move to somewhere bigger and more comfortable. They can get a bigger room at the same price or cheaper since this location is not exactly a hot spot.
Will I come back?
If I am in the area and I don't have to wait in line.
Is it worthy waiting in line?
Not really. It tastes good but it's not so freaking good to makes you think it's crack. It's not "addictive" good. And the seating situation is very abusive. I would not line up and bend over backward for that.
Unlike major US cities with a lot of Japanese living there, Vancouver doesn't have big Japanese population and many Japanese restaurants operated by Japanese. In other words, there's not a lot of competition for Kintaro. It can easily rank as top 3 ramen in Vancouver.
I just got back from japan about 6 months ago and I feel that this is just like it, GREAT!!!! There is nothing con about it. People were waiting outside the restaurant before it opened and it's exactly how it is in japan.
All the waiters and waitresses are either japanese or can speak japanese. The portions were HUGE!
The price is well worth it for the quality you get.
Little bar where you huddle and slurp your noodle is just like japan. I don't think it could get more authentic than this in Vancouver.
Heard many good reviews about this place and since I had a ramen craving, I decided to visit it. There seems to be a perpetual line-up outside, but try to shoot for off-peak hours and you're pretty much guaranteed a seat within a few minutes.
Anyways, as the previous reviewer mentioned, this place is very reminiscent of a typical Ramen establishment in Japan - small, open kitchen, no air conditioning, and rubbing elbows with your neighbors. The menu is not exhausting - it only contains about 10 or so ramen bowls and some side dishes. I usually order Chasu Ramen, but my colleague highly recommended the CHEESE ramen (yes CHEESE Ramen), so I decided to give it a shot (you only live once!). I tried this bowl of Ramen with a lot of reservations as I couldn't imagine how cheese + noodles + soup really mix! Anyways, putting the question of whether the cheese ramen is authentic aside (I don't think it is), the bowl was extremely satisfying! I've had it 2 more times since my first try, so it actually does taste awesome and not just because my expectations were really low.
The verdict? Give the Good Ol' Cheese Ramen a try!
i can heartfully agree that there are better ramen places. and the ramen prob isnt made in house. there isnt much to choose from on the menu. the noodles are big bowls loaded with lotsa noodles. like the option to pay for more veg and protein. dont like to fill up with carbo's. the key to good ramen besides the noodle is the broth. and great broth takes time. the broth here is good but not as good as in japan. the wait is silly sometimes and the place is somewhat unorganized. but i found the servers to always being polite and never rude. will go back again. but wish i knew of better noodle houses.
still no challengers to the throne. soup base and noodles are still the best, period. the lean pork was never really that good and they could learn from how the chinese make their pork but be that as it may, does not detract much from the excellent taste of this bowl of ramen. service was friendly and efficient.
Okay, okay ... so this place definitely isn't the cleanest of places (definitely needs a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint). But if you can get past the exterior and get right down to the nitty-gritty (the food !!) then you'll discover this place is probably the best place for ramen noodles.
We went here last night at about 9:30 and had to wait about 15 minutes before being seated as it was packed. On the suggestion of a friend and our server, we had the Miso Ramen with medium broth and chose fatty pork (next time we'll do lean as it was REALLY fatty) and added corn to the soup. We also ordered some kim chee and gyoza. The kim chee was nice and fresh (and not too killer hot like some of those Korean BBQ places). The gyoza took forever to come (we were almost done our soup when they arrived), but they were good as well.
Overall, the food was definitely worth the drive from North Burnaby. It totally hit the spot. The only thing is waiting in line to get in. Not too sure I'd want to do that on a cold evening as there is nowhere to stand but outside of the restaurant.
Been here a number of times and the ramen has yet to disappoint! As previous reviews mention, the broth *is* very fattening...I haven't managed to bring myself to try the "rich" soup because I probably would get too full 20% into my meal. My dining partner and I agree that the miso ramen is the tastiest on the menu, but the cold ramen is very refreshing in the hot summer months. The noodles are fresh tasting and never soggy. ;)
Service is okay. However, I think you get slightly faster service when you sit on the bar stools around the cooking area.
A lot of people would say that ambiance is poor because it does get really stuffy and hot [and if you sit in front of the stove you might smell a little noodly], and it's noisy. But considering the type of food that you're eating [think uber-casual, hearty stuff], and that the majority of people are there for fast, delicious eats at a terrific price, you really shouldn't be comparing the scene to really upscale places. So hence the 'decent' rating.
Nice place to eat after wandering all over Stanley Park all day long...and definitely student-budget friendly too!
I came here with a friend after indoor climbing so we were both pretty famished, and that could have made the ramen extra tasty. I just wanted to disclose that before going further.
Food - I think this is the best ramen in Lower Mainland. I've been to many other places (Benkei, Menya, etc.), but I think this is the king. I got ton ramen with extra fat. I know some people think it's salty, but that's their own fault for choosing ton with fat! Anyways, I thought the soup broth was full of depth, and delicious. The noodle texture was bouncy and fresh, as were the other condiments.
Service - They were "japanese" polite and all request were filled. No complaints.
Value - I think for $6-7 gets you a BIG bowl of ramen with some meats and fixings. That is very good value. I was left feeling very full, yet satisfied at the same time.
Ambiance - the place is pretty run down, and the washroom is pretty gross, but whatever, I'm there for the ramen. We sat by the bar, which gave us a good view of how the chef cooked the ramen, which was quite interesting.
So in summary, go here for the food - ramen. Just beware that like other reviewers have stated, the soup is a bit thick and salty if you get full fat.