If I didn’t know before, I definitely know now – there’s nobody who knows grossly inappropriate price points like Aburi Restaurants, and after dinner tonight at their most recent addition to the group, it’s clear that Gyoza Bar and Ramen is no different.
Talk of the town for the past month, it’s no surprise to me when I walk in to a full house. Clean, chic, and contemporary there is no doubt, but when it comes to a good old fashioned bowl of ramen, there’s something to be said for tiny and grimy.
I’m not saying I prefer to enjoy my noo noos in a dump, but the best ramen always seems to come from a cozy little joint that’s just a little bit dirty and a lot too cramped, just like back in old country.
One look at the menu and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that innovation is their game here because you don’t just have your pan fried gyoza, you’ve also got your specialty gyozas. You don’t just have your pork tonkotsu ramen, you’ve also got your tomato saffron ramen. And no, you don’t just have your traditional edamame, but rather you’ve got your edamame hummus.
Never content with ordering just the regular, my hands were immediately tied when I heard the Miso Short Rib + Jalapeño Soy Glaze Gyozas whispering sweet nothings into my ear.
So what if five pieces of gyoza cost me $13? And so what if my Japanese dumplings were slightly reminiscent of Mexican chimichangas?
Truth be told, the sweet soy glaze, fresh feta, cherries, mushrooms, and zucchini, are a creative concept with a satisfactorily savoury short rib filling. But had I known that these golden little pockets of meat would be deep fried and remind me more of a Mexican vacation than anything else, I more than likely would have made some very different lifestyle decisions.
Throwing all rational thinking and frugality to the wind, when it came to noodle decisions, the Tomato Saffron Seafood Ramen had to be ordered because if you don’t order the overpriced signature item at an overhyped restaurant, pray tell, what is the point of living?
At nearly $18 a bowl, I would be amiss if I didn’t say I had been expecting strands of gold and angel tears but as a little known band I like to call The Rolling Stones always says, you can’t always get what you want.
No matter though because in the end, the noodles actually had a decently firm texture and the seafood broth, served with a surprisingly adequate amount of mussels, clams, prawns, scallops, and chicken cha-siu, were quite tasty.
Despite the strong seafood notes to the broth though, if you’re looking to fix that hankering you’ve had for ramen for the past three weeks, this is not your dish.
In fact, I’m not sure anything would be your dish here because the Pork Tonkotsu Ramen turned out to be a disappointment as well. Marginally cheaper at $14 and served with a mediocre aburie pork cha-siu, this broth lacked the personality and subtle depth that I’ve become so accustomed to on the Vancouver ramen scene.
Because I’m a glutton for punishment, but mainly just a glutton, I pushed past the full stage straight into full blown overindulgence with a last minute Teppan Gyoza add on. What are girlfriends for if you can’t encourage one another to share in gorging on disgusting amounts of food?
Intrigued by the idea of my gyozas being served to me in a cast iron pot and a selection of two dipping soy sauces, at $8 for 7 pieces, I had to have them. Excessively oily, small, and tasteless if not for the soy sauce, this fat panda was not impressed.
I’m no rocket scientist, but when you can’t properly make a dish that’s in the very name of your restaurant, I think it’s time to reassess some things. Or at least take a long hard look at what an appropriate price point might be.
Would I return?
The friendly service, dim lighting, and clean factor were definitely a nice touch, but they don’t call me Tightwad Meg for nothing.
More of a place to see and be seen, I’ve never been one of the cool girls anyway. I think next time I’ll just save my time and hard earned money for a bowl of ramen made less with cool and more with love.