Kintaro is a ramen noodle house in the West End.
Came here on a Thursday night w/ my boyfriend and we were sat at the bar in front of the chefs, which was fine with me. It was interesting watching the 2 chefs work (well) and interact with each other. Waitresses were welcoming and I loved that they yelled out greetings and thanks/bye to all the customers who came and went.
We both had the medium miso with lean pork, and shared a plate of gyoza. Though the flavors, portions and ingredients were really good, I have to wonder if they use lots of MSG or something. I felt SO thirsty the entire night after leaving the restaurant! Still, the flavors will have me coming back again, at least once more.
Well folks, this joint has gone downhill in a hurry. A few years ago it was good, but after today's disaster we won't be back, and we'll be advising everyone we know to stay away. Here's the skinny:
My wife, 13-month old baby,and I arrived a few minutes before opening today (Aug.7/07). We dutifully took our place in line (there were about 5 or 6 people ahead of us) on a rainy Tuesday. A waitress came out and handed everyone menus, returning a few minutes later to take advance orders. The couple ahead of us were the last to order; the waitress inexplicably stopped there and returned inside (so why give us a menu in the first pleace?). It wasn't a good omen.
When the doors opened everyone took a seat and I immediately wondered how the staff would remember who was first in line.Sure enough, soon everyone had ordered, including a lot of people behind us in line before she came to our table (so what's the point in lining up?). My wife (she's Japanese) called the waitress over and told her that we hadn't ordered yet (meanwhile, some people were already getting served). She took our order and we waited, and waited, and waited. Everyone we were sharing the large table with in front now had food in front of them except us. 12:15 rolls by, then 12:30. WTF? Some people were now finished and leaving. Fed up,I asked my wife to again have a word with the idiot "managing" the floor (the same 20-something Japanese ESL student). My wife tore a strip off her (our baby was now getting fussy as well) and we got up to leave. It was now 12:40PM...we'd been waiting 40 mins.+ for a couple of bowls of soup and had only been given glasses of water, that's it. Remember, we about fifth in line. We stormed out and my wife again gave the waitress hell outside the restaurant. We got empty apologies. What a waste of time. Hungry and pissed off, we returned home.
I had the medium miso soup with fat pork yesterday. The soup base was rich, but not greasy or oily tasting. The fatty pork was delicious, very tender and flavorful, but I wish they gave more than 1 piece. The noodles were also very good; got a little bit of chew to them.
The place itself isn't anything great to look at (but i'm not expecting a fancy restaurant; its basically a noodle shop). I was with 3 other friends and other than the 1 big table at the front of the restaurant, there weren't any big tables, only tables for 2 and the bar stools. I've read complaints about the smell of the restaurant, but I thought the smell made my mouth water; gives the place a very homey feel.
Perfect place to grab a very satisfying meal on a cold, rainy day.
I agree with the previous rater. Kintaro Ramen is undeniably the best in Vancouver untill you try the ones in Japan. I always go with Light Soup and Fat meat. They soup tend to be too strong for me so i always go with light, fat meat is a must have, the lean ones are simply no good. The service is okay average. There is not much atmosphere. The whole store have a sort of oily air which is the only downside. Good food overpowers all the other elements for this store.
For Vancouver, Kintaro is far and beyond any ramen shop in Vancouver. (All the other ones are terrible and taste like instant noodles). The miso ramen is excellent and you must get the fatty pork. (The lean stuff is just no good.) I have never had a problem with the service, as some other reviewers have mentioned.
Unfortunately, after my trip from Japan, I was made to realize that Kintaro's ramen is below average in Japanese standards. (If you get a chance to go to Japan, eat their ramen... utterly amazing in every aspect.)
I really liked the Cheese Ramen. I had it once and it was ok, but the second time I had it was very, very good. I love cheese, even though it can make you fat! I'm not fat, but I do wait to have this ramen at least once a month.
I want to try to new location in Richmond. I can't wait!
I really appreciate that they make their own broth from scratch, the way that it is supposed to be made.
Very good. I just wish that it was a little bit cleaner. They are very busy.
Other than long line up and somewhat slow service. This place is the best Japanese noodle place in Vancouver. My brother who lived in Japan for three years agreed too. :)
It doesn't get much better than having the option of having your soup made with rich broth and fatty pork, and you have that option here. It's cramped which makes it fun, and you shouldn't really expect to have great service, but in my opinion, this only adds to the restaurant.
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: While they do not have as many different types of soups as other Ramen places, the ones they have are favourful. I had the miso ramen and it was one of the best ones I've had. I especially like the noodle's texture and taste.
Service: Service was prompt and friendly. My water was filled out without having to ask, which was nice.
Value: The portion you get for the price is pretty filling for me. The cheese ramen often leaves me stuffed.
Ambiance: It's not the nicest looking place, but I think the decor fits with ramen experience.
Overall: While this is my favourite ramen place, I don't think it is head and shoulders above the others around the area that I would wait in the long line up it sometimes have if the alternatives don't require waiting. Luckily, the turnover is pretty quick and a lineup of a few people usually doesn't take very long.
I would say it's pretty good.
- they actually use bone soup!
- fairly large portions (I've been to places where the give you a very fine slice of pork)
- you can choose lean or fatty pork
- you can choose light, medium or rich broth
- food comes quickly
- waitresses are efficient they start taking your orders in line and repeat back to you what you've ordered just to make sure
- if sitting at the bar you can watch them cook and there are at least 3 huge keg like pots of broth which are stirred quite often (I find it interesting to see them prepare the food)
- prices are low
- broth seems quite oily (particularly during the evening - so I prefer lunch hour)
- lean pork comes a bit tough for my liking
- there's a line to get in often
- you have to share tables with others and there is very little room to move about (although one could argue this is part of the atmosphere of a fast-paced ramen house)
- it's very noisy, as the waitresses and cooks will welcome you and bid you farewell
- small restaurant
- cramped bathroom
Service?? I don't expect any decent level of service at an Asian restaurant in this price range. They take your order, bring your food and cheque. Nothing great, nothing wrong. I am fine with that.
Food?? Rich in flavour. But the stock/broth contains too much of that distinctive porky (not in a good way, almost fishy) smell. This is very typical of a pork stock and good chefs know how to minimize it. Unfortunately, Kintaro doesn't. The sliced pork meat (possibly leg or shoulder meat) used for garnish also contain too much of porky odour and it was cold to touch.
**When I say porky odour, it's different from appetizing odour from well-cooked good quality pork chop, bacon, pork belly or ribs.
Value?? More than reasonably priced with large portion sie.
Ambiance?? very basic and under-decorated. That's the whole point. It's like a friendly neighbourhood joint from somewhere in tokyo. But, the restaurant is dirty and smelly. I don't know where that smell's coming from. It smelled like a toilet. Period. Everything I touch was sticky. Yuck. Please clean the restaurant.
The Gyoza is very crispy outside and juicy inside. The sauce that goes with is is not too salty as well. The ramen is so so, not the best place if you want quality japanese ramen but the value is outstanding. Please beware of the waiting time though. Depending on when you go, you might have to wait for a long while.
We went to Kintaro yesterday..what it was a nice surprise. We were greeted right away while we waited for a seat. After a small wait we were seated @ the bar and had a drink order taken. For lunch we both choose the Miso Ramen. You have a choice of light, medium or dark for fat content ( we both choose medium) and also, you are able to choose lean or fatty pork (we choose lean). The service was friendly fast and efficient, and they were BUSY! For $7.50. You get a HUGE bowl of ramen, filled with pork, (which was tender) corn, noodles bean sprouts and other veggies. It was a great value and sooooo good. Now I understand why there is always a line-up @ this place. I will definitely be going back
Let's get this out of the way: Kintaro has excellent noodles. They do a very authentic tonkotsu ramen and their miso ramen is the boldest, most flavourful broth I've tasted. Their latest offering, the spicy garlic ramen, is incredibly bold and the crushed garlic on top adds a real kick of flavour that's unforgettable. Not to mention the boiled egg, which is cooked to perfection. The cold ramen is a great blend of salty, sweet, and spiciness that's refreshing on a cold day. And everything is priced afforably, because you WILL be full. There is no doubt that you'll be full here.
Now there's the issue of space... I love it when there's no line and I get my soup right away, but that is a rare occurance and waiting in line for 15 minutes to eat my food just as fast can be a real bummer in both the winter and summer. The servers are in a real rush to get people in and hour and clear tables almost as soon as you put your spoon and chopsticks down. And then because the boiling soup stocks are kept out front and everything is cooked in an open kitchen, it gets very humid if you have to sit at the bar, especially in the winter when they don't have the dehumidifiers/air conditioners on. This is a very in-and-out type of place, which is good for some, but Motomachi Shokudo just a block away delivers food just as good for a similar price, and is way more comfortable, and typically less busy. I love the ramen at Kintaro, but it is really hard to sit in when I know Motomachi is just as good (aside from Kintaro's brilliant miso ramen), offers healthier options, doesn't reek of boiling pork bone, and is only a minute down the street. However, Kintaro remains the #2 in my heart. Benkei is too salty, and G-men is too boring with its flavours, and I have yet to try the recently-opened Santouka, next door to Guu. Undoubtably I will return to Kintaro when they bring back their cold ramen for the summer and start turning on their air conditioning to sort out the stuffy atmosphere.
I went to Japan for a few months and came back to Vancouver a ramen lover. Unfortunately there is NOTHING that comes close to the ramen in Japan. The closest I found was Kintaro. Although still very good, but nothing close to the real deal in Sapporo, Japan. Like others have mentioned, it is very small, very busy, quick turn around of customers. It's not somewhere you go to have a nice long meal and shoot the sh*t with friends. It's basically more of a fast food joint. Sit down, order quick, eat quick, leave quick. You will often share one table with a bunch of random strangers. This is one of those places you go with SMALL groups of 2-4 MAX. Although is ambiance is nothing spectacular, it definitely is a different kind of dining experience. Try it out if you like soupy noodles. I'm quite certain you won't be disappointed. I would say it's definitely one of the best tasting in Vancouver.
So many new ramen places have opened but my favourite is still Kintaro!
There's a line up most of the time but it's because they're so yummy! And the place is tiny but everyone usually eats and goes so the line moves along fairly quickly.
Good ramen! Fast food! Great price! How can you say no?
Some might complain it's a bit stuffy but for some reason I like how small and crowded the place is.. it gives the place a different vibe.. like japan's skytrain!
You HAVE TO try it if you still haven't!!
Kintaro is a Japanese ramen noodle shop. Best known for it's consistent noodle texture and broth. From my experience, its the best ramen you can eat in Vancouver away from Japan. If you like the typical shoyu or miso ramen, that is quick, hot and tasty - I highly recommend this joint. I have also tried their gyozas here and they are not bad, but not special, just your typical Japanese dumpling.
Ambiance is almost like a wonton house, not exceptionally clean but not dirty. If you get a seat by the bar, you can see the cooks at work boiling the noodles and getting the broth ready. Highly recommended if you are a ramen lover.
I find it hilarious that Kintaro is constantly reviewed as the best place for ramen in Vancouver. Kintaro definitely doesn't live up to the public opinion of "best ramen in Vancouver." I guess a muddy glass of swap water is still water when you're dying of thirst in the desert.
I've been here a couple of times now and I've never been impressed at all.
The service is what it is for a busy ramen shop, so I can't really say that it's bad, but I can't really say that it's good either. Too bad Dine Here doesn't have a "neutral" or "no comment" option. At least this is the only thing that it has in common with an authentic ramen shop in Japan.
Just for laughs, I've always mixed up my order varying the "fatty-ness" of the soup and pork. Every single time, I've gotten the same bowl of ramen. So offering up the "option to choose" is really moot point.
People rave praises about the miso ramen here and that's another laugh. Miso can kill the delicate nuances of a soup, but they can also cover up any faults as well. I think the miso ramen here falls into the latter category since the shio and shoyu ramen here are pretty bad. Pretty bad is when I can make a better bowl of ramen at home using one of those raw/frozen ramen packs that can be bought in a Japanese food store.
If you want to raise the bar and your own standards and have a bowl of "real" GOOD ramen, there are better places down the street or around the corner on Robson.
I went to Kintaro while I was in Vancouver in December. I lived in Japan and haven't had REAL Ramen since I moved back to Canada. The Ramen was great, the aroma in the restaurant was as I remember in Japan, and the service was Japanese style...Quick and to the point. Love the place, I would recomend it to anybody. I even bought a Kintaro T-shirt.