Korea has its own version of the ramen called ‘ramyeon’. ‘Ramyeon’ is a popular Korean instant meal and is well-known for its chili pepper goodness. Adding their own style to this traditional noodle dish, Korean ‘ramyeon’ comes in beef, seafood and even kimchi flavor. The quest for this Japanese cultural icon has brought me once again to a man whom I met years ago on a different quest.
Some like it hot but this one’s definitely hotter.
Ramen Quest – the search for Vancouver’s hidden Japanese Ramen.
Episode 3 – The Emperor’s Dish
Image cutline: The Sundubu Ramen at Sura is one of the tastiest ramens you’ll ever taste. Pair it with a Soju cocktail to quell the heat, either that or a fire extinguisher.
Michael Kim, the owner of SURA is certainly well known in the Korean community. I first met Kim a couple of years ago at his previous venture, Chung Dam Anh, a Japanese-Korean Izakaya-style speakeasy on Cardero Street just off Robson. If you weren’t in the ‘know,’ chances are you would have never entered through the doors of Chung Dam. Fast forward to today, Kim has opened an equally-mysterious restaurant on Robson Street slightly East of Cardero. You may have a hard time locating a sign on this block that says ‘SURA’ – the majority of their sign is written in Korean and has a small stamp and the word SURA in small letters on the side. Thankfully we’re not in the French Province which has draconian sign laws – or I’m sure by now they’d have lined up the proprietor and subpoenaed him senseless.
Back to the restaurant, it’s an elegant 70 seater that has a descriptive and informative English menu, serves up tasty Korean cuisine and also sports a nice Sake and Wine list. Very accessible. The Sundubu Ramen they list is a spicy soup endowed with soft tofu, your choice of seafood or beef and of course, ramen noodles. On the occasion of this review, I ordered the beef variety of the dish but have since eaten both. The soup is certainly spicier than any Japanese Ramen I’ve ever had but that’s what I’d say is to be expected with Korean cuisine. The noodles are plentiful and at just under ten bucks, given the ambience, the unlimited refills on the complimentary ‘banchan’ (side-dishes including Kimchee) and the superb quality of the ingredients, there’s as much value built in as there is burn-off-your-face heat.
Next time it will be Ramen first, Korean Bar-be-que next and we’ll wash it all down with their innocuous Soju-cocktails.
Raj Taneja is part technologist, part entrepreneur, part social media juggernaut and part foodie. He runs urbanmixer.com, publishes a miscellany of his musings at raj.jp and can be found on twitter with the username ‘tinhead.’