It had been several months since I visited Ramen Danbo in Kitsilano. It was a pleasant experience then and they have since opened a second location on Robson in the space formerly occupied by VanVan Izakaya. I went to Ramen Danbo a few times recently for their lunch special and here is a review of my visits.
Fukuoka-Style Tonkotsu Ramen
To start, Ramen Danbo serves traditional tonkotsu ramen (pork-bone broth) crafted in the Kyushu Hakata style (other popular regional styles are Tokyo and Sapporo). For some geographical context, Hakata ramen is from Fukuoko, which is Japan’s sixth largest city and is located on the island of Kyushu. While Ramen Danbo has over 20 locations in Japan, their Kitsilano location is the first international one and the Robson one their second.
Seriouseats.com noted that many ramen broths are gently simmered to develop subtle flavors. However, tonkotsu broth like at Ramen Danbo is cooked at a rolling boil, which gives the soup a rich body, opaque appearance, and rich texture.
Ramen Danbo Menu
Ramen Danbo has 5 signature ramen ranging from a classic tonkotsu ramen to a spicy blazing hot rekka ramen. The prices are between $9 – $12 which is standard for a ramen eatery. At Ramen Danbo, you can customize your ramen by choosing the thickness and firmness of the noodles, the thickness of the noodle broth, and the amount of lard and spicy tare sauce. While I have chosen the noodle type at other ramen restaurants, the latter options have not been offered in my experience. At Ramen Danbo, extra-noodles can be ordered as a half ($1.00) or full order ($2.00). Extra topping choices included the usual chashu pork, soft-boiled egg topping and seawood. They also offer typical toppings for Hakata style ramen which are kikurage (cloud ear mushroom) and Karashi Takana (pickled Japanese mustard greens with a spicy kick). The Ramen Danbo menu is fully available online.
There are three lunch set specials which are available weekdays 11:00 am to 5 pm. My go-to set is “A” which includes your choice of ramen with 3-pieces of pan-fried Yaki Gyoza and 1 of 4 ramen toppings (Soft-boiled Egg, Nori, Kikurage, or Karashi Takana) all for an extra $3.
What I Tried
I had the Classic Tonkotsu Ramen and Negi-goma Tonkotsu Ramen as lunch set option A with 3 gyoza and a soft-boiled egg. Like at the Kitsilano location, the broth was nicely milky, golden in colour, and flavourful, while the noodles were thin but firm. The chashu, though not the most melt-in-your-mouth I have had in Vancouver, was still very tender.
The gyoza was good: crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
My favourite is still the Negi-goma Tonkotsu Ramen which has scallions, 2 pieces of chashu, toasted sesame seeds and white sesame oil. I love the fun texture from the white sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds.
My experience is that if you order just the ramen alone without any other extras you will most likely still be hungry. With the lunch set special, I was definitely comfortable but not stuffed.
Overall Impression of Ramen Danbo
All in all, I enjoy the ramen at Ramen Danbo and their customization options. I would recommend getting extra toppings or side dishes to ensure that you are full. The broth is rich, flavourful and very drinkable. Rating: 4/5
For more information, visit Ramen Danbo on their website.