CUISINE / RESTAURANT REVIEWS Downtown Japanese Ramen Vancouver

Noodle Express 中華楼

Update: This restaurant is now closed.

We were on a quest to find the next great ramen place.  From reading blogs online I decided on two places: Shogun the Sapporo Ramen and Noodle Express, both for cheap and good ramen.

First stop was Shogun.  However, once we’ve arrived, it turns out this place closes at 4pm every working day.  It also seems like it doesn’t open on the weekends or holidays.  What a way to do business huh?

Fortunately I anticipated this mishap, as these things seem to happen often.  We always seem to venture out to a place only to find them not open on the exact same weekday we visit.  My next choice is Noodle Express.

It was relatively easy to find.  There’s a parking garage nearby too on Alberni Street, above the liquor store.  It costs $2.50 per half hour, and you can ONLY pick between half an hour or 24 hours parking.  Weird.

As with most ramen places, you have a choice between Miso, Shoyu and Shio soup base.

Noodle Express

It wasn’t busy at all the day of our visit.  It was a weekday afterall and it wasn’t quite dinner time yet.  They have quite a selection on their menu, and there were items posted on the walls all around also.  This led me to the suspicion that this is not a japanese-owned restaurant, as we would’ve like for a ramen place.  My suspicion was confirmed later when the waitress talked to the cooks in the back in mandarin.

Noodle Express: Roasted Beef

First up the Boyfriend was enticed by the menu item Roasted Beef.  Upon reading I would think this is equivalent to the chinese style of five-spice marinated roast beef.  So we had high hopes for it.

Unfortunately, this was obviously reheated in the microwave (we could hear the beep of the microwave).  Despite the dark coloring of the meat, it was bland and dry.  The only good part was the part near the tendon, and that had barely tasteable flavor.  I suggested we leave it to dunk into the ramen soup later.

Noodle Express: Pork Toro Shoyu Ramen

I ordered the Pork Toro Shoyu Ramen.  It came with succulent pieces of fatty pork belly meat.  They were the best part of the dish.  They were perfectly marinated and prepared, soft and melted in my mouth.  Good for my tastebuds, not so good for my arteries~

I like the fact that they serve their ramen they way sapporo style should be -with bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and corn.  The fact that Ezogiku changed their ways and serve it with cabbage, artificial crab and bak choy (sometimes) had disappointed me little by little.

The soup base was just okay.  It didn’t live up to my expectations since that one time I had the best shoyu soup base at Ezogiku, and even THEY don’t live up to it anymore.  The noodles were not as “springy” as I liked either.

Noodle Express: Chicken Teriyaki Shoyu Ramen

Boyfriend’s choice was Chicken Teriyaki Shoyu Ramen.  Everything else was the same as mine.  The chicken was not as flavorful though.  I found it rather bland.

Having said all that, I’ll still come back, perhaps to try their miso soup base to see if it’s any good.

Noodle Express on Urbanspoon

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