A loooooong time ago we were headed to one of Chris’ colleague’s place for an evening out, and decided we shouldn’t show up with empty stomachs 🙂 I suggested stopping at Menya which is right on the 99 bus route on Broadway just one block east of Cambie.
I had tried to come for a late lunch here in the past, but, like many restaurants in Japan, it closes between the lunch service and dinner. I also had been under the impression that it may be a cash-only place, but in fact it takes both debit and credit (including the JCB International card! 🙂 ) Inside, the restaurant is spartan but warm, with the real wood stump stools, nice flags, and cheerful pictures and autographs from Japanese athletes who dined here during the 2010 Olympics.
As we were there for dinner, we chose to partake of the very reasonably-priced “Ramen Set” add-on to round out our meals. I’m a really big fan of onigiri, and I love gyoza – so for an extra $3.40 more, I was sold!
The onigiri options were plain, salmon (I think) and BBQ pork. I had ordered the salmon one, but got BBQ pork for sure. Oh well! It was served quite warm and due to my clumsiness, ended up falling apart on me. Nonetheless, it tasted very nice with well cooked, well seasoned rice.
The gyoza (pictured here both the “undercarriage” and the top side, to demonstrate the “correct” cooking method which causes the wrapper dough to merge when being pan fried) were a bit small and didn’t have a ton of filling. The wrapper was very nice though, with a good chewy texture and very precise folds. I found the dipping sauce to be a bit on the dark side, lacking the vinegary aspects that I’m more used to.
On to the main (or should I say “mein”) part of the meal. The Shoyu Ramen was my choice primarily because of the soft boiled egg and the shoyu broth which, in this case, was rich and complex, not just salty like cheap soy sauce. I loved the broth very much – it really was the star component. The egg which had a custardy yolk was very nice in the broth, as was the BBQ pork (hence why I had wanted another protein in my onigiri!). The noodles, which are sunk at the bottom of the dish, were very fresh tasting, and denser than most ramen I’ve had, but not in a bad way.
Chris went with a Fukuoka-style Tonkotsu Miso Ramen that was made with pork bones which resulted in this creamy looking broth. He found this ramen to be quite authentic to the kind he had had in Fukuoka first-hand, and was delighted to have sweet corn mixed in (and a fancy pierced spoon to go with!). The bowl was empty in no time!
We definitely enjoyed our meal at Menya (and subsequent repeat visits have been excellent too). I am tickled by the incredibly polite and cheerful waitresses who ooze Japanese courtesy. Now that I know the hours and the accepted forms of payment, I’m happy to tuck into this adorable little place for a hot meal!