Kintaro is a ramen noodle house in the West End.
Food: Come here frequently for late lunch and dinner lately. If you're a vegetarian note that all their soups come with meat broth. When you order all soups you can specify your meat (lean, medium, fat) and your broth (light, medium, heavy, which is the amount of oils I think). I usually have the shio ramen, light broth, with either lean pork or vegetables-only. Both are excellent. The pork option is well balanced with some very nice tasting pieces of pork and a good amount of vegetables (and I think egg as well). The vegetable option I especially like as I would say it is the largest and most generous ramen & vegetable soup you will find anywhere in Vancouver. Tons of vegetables and the same great tasting ramen.
Service: Good, but the waitresses sometimes don't smile much, which I partially understand because it is always crazy busy almost any time of day. Always a long line-up outside, expect 20-30 minute wait at least to get in normally and another 10-15 minutes for your food to come, but I keep going back because it's worth it.
Value: Great value. Large portions and great taste.
Ambiance: Okay ambience, customers always seem happy, but the environment is very sparse. Clean, very basic white walls, simple chairs and tables, etc. You come here for the food and bring your friends, but you don't linger afterwards.
The ramen just hits the spot. Miso is the way to go!
but you have to wait 20 minutes to get a seat, and i REALLY do not like the sharing of a table with other customers.. just awkward. I really think that they need to expand the place, cause its just really dirty and it doesn't seem like they clean up after each guest since they are so busy.
I went to Kintaro for the first time and expected something better. The ramen is good but nothing too special. It was a cold day so a big bowl of noodles was right. The soup was a bit too salty. I think the price is ok, a bit pricey for what you get and the service, but I guess the location is on Denman. Before we even get a table they take your order, and we barely finished eating and the waitress brings the bill. The seating is uncomfortable and we were sitting directly across another group of people. It was awkward for everyone to have a conversation. They seem to turn a large number of tables really quickly. I don't think its worth the line up and traffic to get to downtown for this type of food.
This is the place to go for rich, heavy ramen. Although, I stuck to the lighter side and ordered the lean pork and medium-rich broth. The wait time can be a factor sometimes, but I only had to wait 10 minutes to be seated. I think I will order the lean broth next time, so I am able to finish off the whole bowl. The ambiance is lacking and one does not go here for that, but for the good value ramen. The servers are friendly and efficient and will come by to refill your water glass. I will be back, as the ramen is tasty and a good price.
I live close by... so usually this is my first choice on Sunday, if i can get a seat.
The noodles teeter between 3 and 4. I miss Japan.
The servers are cute japanese girls that seem to find a way to smile working in this gong show of a noodle house.
The value is ok... but for $1 a bowl of hanpayaro...I'll take those all day.
Yeah... don't wanna be sitting there for more than 20min. The communal table is only ok if it was a bit more spacier. Sometimes i won't sit down even if there is a seat.
I lived in Japan for a year and traveled all over the Kansai area and absolutely loved the Ramen i tasted in the back alleys of a Kyoto Street late at night with my boyfriend and friends.. We were all very impressed with the quality and true taste of Ramen.
The first time i went to Kintaro Ramen.. i loved the raw japanese environment. after reading the reviews i went and experience it on my own. I love the sharing of the big table, the smell of the Ramen in your face, the line up during all types of weather, rain, snow, hot sunny etc. I love how i am the minority because most of the clients are japanese.. i can tell because i can hear them speaking, i loved my ramen soup and i highly recommend it if you want true ramen on a cold, rainy, snowy, hot day. It will be worth it.
Kintaro is one of those places where you go for the food, not the ambiance, so let's get that out of the way first. With that in mind, you should expect to sit down, place your order, eat and get your bill all in about half an hour's time. It's in, eat, out, next customer!
If you're on a budget but still want something satisfying that's not junk food, then Kintaro is a great choice. There's 3 types of pork based broth: shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt), and miso. Every bowl comes with the same noodles and couple slices of pork, aside from the vegetable ramen. You have to tell them if you want your soup light, medium, or rich (meaning they actually had grease to it if you want it medium or rich - some people swear by it). You also have to tell them if you want lean pork or fatty pork.
I've been twice now, and the first time I got the regular shio ramen, light soup, lean pork. It comes with sauteed bean sprouts, a hard boiled egg, bamboo shoots, and green onions (which I opted out of). The broth was really tasty and for lack of a better word, porky. If you like your food on the delicate side, with not a lot of salt, then you might not like this, as the broth is bold with lots of flavour and salt. The lean pork (it's slices of pork roast) was on the dry side, but then again, I chose lean pork.
On my second visit, I chose the chashu ramen, with shio broth. You get more pork that way. I got light broth and decided to try the fatty pork. Good lord, that was heaven in a bowl. It wasn't a huge chunk of fat like I worried it might be - it was more like very marbled meat, which made for melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. The noodles were good - very springy with a nice chew to it. On a cold autumn day, there is nothing more satisfying. It's the best $10 you'll spend. I can't go back to instant ramen anymore!
My Japanese friend I brought here with me said the experience at Kintaro is very much like back home -- the energy of the staff, the way their menu works, and the authenticity of their delicious ramen! It's always pretty busy, so their service is as good as it gets. I sometimes wait for my pepsi for...ever. but otherwise, the food itself comes out very quickly and the price is better than reasonable. I always get medium broth and fat bbq pork. also get a hamparaya pork chunks which is only 1 dollar but great in your soup. yum yum!
Good food, bad place/ambiance. The place is usually overcrowded, and there isn't much space around. Basically you go there for the food and food alone.
I rather liked their Richmond shop more. Sometimes the ramen isn't as good as the Denman one, but there was more room, and it looks a lot cleaner. Too bad they closed that one.
Ever since Benkei was opened, I've only been back to Kintaro once.
This is an absolutely no frills establishment. No decor, bad floors, and doesn't look like they would try to fix up the place. People come here only for the noodles. The noodles are very good, very chewy. The broth, well, if you don't like fatty stuff then definately tell them you want lean. Nothing creative about their menu either. Seems they recycle the same ingredients into different menu items with different names. I don't understand why they will not allow you take-out. Maybe extra food containers would be additional costs? If you've got the time to line up and want a good filler, then Kintaro would be a good option.
So I was in Vancouver at the end of August to visit some friends, and I brought a list of restaurants I wanted to hit in the 5 days I was there. Kintaro Ramen was the first on the list. Why? Because I'm sick of people eating Mr. Noodles and other dried crap chocked full of MSG and calling it "ramen". It's not frickin' ramen. I'm no expert, but I know that packaged noodles are not even close to the hand-made noodles in broth served in Japan.
So after arriving, the 6 of us went to Kintaro Ramen for lunch. After waiting in the long lineup, the waitress split us into 3 groups of 2 because the restaurant was packed. That was kind of lame, but what can you do? I ordered a miso ramen with medium broth, lean pork, and an extra boiled egg. When the soup came I was like "omg, it looks just like the bowl of ramen in Naruto. He even eats miso ramen w/ pork too!"
The soup's flavour was a lot more subtle than I expected. It wasn't very salty, and it was actually kind of refreshing. The noodles were also not what I expected: they were like thin, firm egg noodles whereas I was expecting more of a soft flour noodle. But after I got used to everything, it was really good. I finished the entire bowl, and man was I stuffed. Oh, by the way... they gave the extra boiled egg to the wrong person, so I mentioned this and the waitress reduced the price. I did try 1/2 of my friend's boiled egg and it was AWESOME. I'm serious. If you come here, get like 4 boiled eggs in your soup. You'll thank me. The price was unbeatable at around $9 for my bowl.
Maybe I'm just a lowly Prince George kid who grew up on packaged noodles of death, but I really enjoyed this place. It was fun watching the old man and the young Japanese assistants pounding out bowl after bowl of soup and not even breaking a sweat. Speaking of sweat, it was very hot in that place. The air was humid from all the steam and the soup itself was very warming. But if that doesn't bother you, I recommend this place.
After reading the mixed reviews of this place, I decided to give it a try. I arrived at the restaurant around 1:30 and waited in line for a good 20 minutes. I ordered the miso noodle soup with rich soup base and lean pork meat. The noodle soup did indeed came with very rich soup base. I had to ask for a small bowl for dumping the oil and fat bits that I extracted from the soup. Despite the fatty soup base (I saw the noodle chef threw in what looked like chunks of pig's skin into the pot of broth), this japanese ramen is the best that I had in downtown Vancouver. There is a generous amount of corn, spout, green onion that compliments the chewy noodles very well. The thing that bothered me is the large amount of small bits of fat floating in the soup. The medium soup base that the guest next to me ordered also had these white, small bits of fat in the soup. If the chef could somehow extract these fat from their soup base before serving, it will make a better quality and healthier noodle soup.
I suppose living in Northern Japan for several years may have jaded me to what good ramen really is, but I was a bit disappointed after my trip to Kintaro.
The service was fast, courteous and simply incredible. They were very friendly.
The food however, that left a lot to be desired. I had read a lot of the reviews here prior to jaunting off to find Kintaro. I took the advise of many here and tried the fatty pork. I had hoped for more meat and less fat. Unless you truly enjoy pork fat, get the lean meat. At least then you'll have pork and not pork fat.
The broth I ordered rich because I have always loved the strong flavors of traditional Japanese Ramen. I was again a bit disappointed. Although I ordered the Miso Ramen, there was little miso flavor and what flavor there was seemed drowned in the see of bean sprouts and corn. The noodles were cooked nicely though I'm not certain they were handmade as I've read.
All in all, Kintaro was an ok experience but now one that I'd travel out of my way for.
Kintaro is definitely one of the best ramen places in the Lower Mainland! The handmade ramen is "al-dente" and the broth is rich and tasty(albeit slighty too salty for my liking). The menu is limited but it is sufficient. The ramen can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want it you be, ie. for your ramen creation, you can choose to have the lean or fatty pork, the light(ie. non-oily), medium or strong(ie. oily) soup. It's a hole-in-the-wall, but I find the open kitchen concept very inviting. Once you walk in, the wisp of thick broth brewing in the GINORMOUS stewing pots hits you and you suddenly feel like you have not eaten in 10days!! The price is reasonable and the quantity is generous. Service is quick and atypical of a traditional ramen place in Japan. Would recommend.
Like what other people said, I find this noodle house is simply the best one out there. (In Vancouver area at least, and yea even better than some from Toyko)
I like pretty much all their noodles except their "always sold out forest fire saturaday special"
Oh, don't bother to go there during hot summer time, you will end up sweating non-stop ;p But if you want good noodle, there is something you have to suffer :D
Oh, last word, their Richmond shop sucks! I live in Richmond and I have to drive all the way to downtown, guess you should know why already.
Some of my asian friend told me that kintaro had the best ramen ever. And finally, i got chance to go there...
I never find ramen soup as greasy as the one on kintaro. besides the other item on the menu they have are (i'm not sure what's the name) slice of pork meat (lean or fat)... but damn both of them are fats!!
Place is so small and the waiter&waitress are too busy with themselves, and the smell of fat will stick to your shirt after awhile there. I dont think i would come back by myself...
Kintaro more than lived up to the endorsement I received from a friend. Kintaro is a busy (expect a line), you're-in-you're-out ramen house that makes some of the best soup (Japanese or otherwise) I've eaten in my life.
I had the miso ramen (their specialty) and my girlfriend had the shio ramen while sitting at the counter watching the chefs create. Both bowls of ramen were exquisitely prepared and tasted like heaven on earth. We both opted for the "medium" soup and will probably continue to order "medium". "Heavy" would be a heart stopper while "light", based on the "medium" would be too diluted. Know this...to make the soup "light", "medium" or "heavy", they strain some fat off the pork stock with a strainer and add it to your soup. Sounds gross, tastes awesome.
You also have a choice of lean or fatty pork. We both went with lean because we don't like a 3:1 ratio of fat to meat. The lean pork was tasty so we probably won't be trying the fatty pork.
Is Kintaro health food? Hell, no. Did anyone ever say it was? I doubt it. All soups are based on pork stock so any vegetarians adverse to pork shouldn't waste their time in line. Even the "vegetarian" soup is based on pork stock if I remember the menu correctly.
Some people think places like Kintaro have bad service...I think they have some impatient, intolerant or disrespectful customers. Kintaro has line-ups...that's the sign (usually) of a great restaurant. The servers at Kintaro were polite, courteous and friendly to us first-timers. It makes me wonder what kind of person gets into a grudge match with the servers there. We could have used more water refills, but that's not a big complaint.
We loved the food, service and atmosphere and can't wait for our next visit.
Tried many spots around town but Kintaro is the best of what we have here. Perhaps it's the overly poor quality of the other places that makes Kintaro so popular.
At least it's Japanese owned and run so there is a bit of authenticity in the operations.
After my experience in Kawawa, my sister had recommended me Kintaro Ramen as a place to go, taking the plunge, I have decided to head to Vancouver's Ramen Capital and its crown jewel Kintaro. And I have to say, it was a very delicous experience
The place is packed by the time I was there and was given a menu right off the bat, compared to Kawawa, the Ramen soups are more traditional but compensated with allowing for intensity of the soup and the pork slices. Ordering a thick pork slice salt broth ramen. I sat down to enjoy the Ramen, and I have to say...I LOVED IT!
The Ramen Soup itself felt a lot more savory then when Kawawa normally offered and lacked the mind numbingly hot feel after drinking the broth. The side orders however was somewhat not to my taste due to bean sprouts and a lack of bamboo shoots, but the pork made up for that. If I could describe the pork, I will have to say it is nice and fatty and tastes like a roasted ham straight from the roast. Yes, it is that good I have to say. The noodles are also very smooth and I liked the authenticity.
Overrall a very good experience
My friend really wanted to eat ramen when we were in downtown. We lined up a little, not for long, to get a seat.
The setting of this place is pretty close to ramen places in Japan. When you go eat ramen, you don't talk about ambiance and service for the first thing. As long as the servers are passionate about their ramen and clean, then it's a very good thing. Quality of FOOD is how you rate a ramen place.
Food arrived in a reasonable time. When we first looked at the ramen, my friend thought the soup is too oily. But for ramen, it's the oil which traps the heat inside the soup to keep it hot. So I was expecting a very hot bowl of yummy ramen like the ones I ate in Japan. But OMG.... store owner... You call this ramen? It's warm, not hot. BBQ pork.... not seasoned enough. Soup? Not rich enough. Noodle? too soft.
OMG, if I were you selling this lame ramen, and have a line in front of the door, I will really do something to improve it. Don't you feel shame of charging that money for a bowl of ramen which is worse than an instant pack? Yes, I didn't expect it to be as great as the ones in Japan, but this is definitely worse than instant ones.
I am serious, people. Go to T&T supermarket frozen food session and look for Nissin frozen ramen pack. Follow the instruction and you will have better reman than Kitoro. It's that easy. The only thing is you will have no toppings and you will need to wash your own dishes. But it's less than $2. It's better than waiting in line and paying that much.