This post is brought to you by baby E, hereafter known as "(e)". (e) is an adorable three month old baby boy of my friend H. Doesn't he look Supercute? I only took a couple photos of him, but he was aware and looking at the camera for most of them.
When I wake up in the morning, I groggily check my email, facebook, and twitter. Yesterday, I logged on to twitter *right* as Jonnek1028 was tweeting about Tenku Bakudanyakis' "new friends", Shoryumen and Fumisen. Literally right after I tweeted back about wanting to visit the Elmbridge parking lot for lunch that day, I opened up a message on facebook from H about the same stalls. I decided then and there that I'd try them for lunch!
Shoryumen and Fumisen, following in the Tenku Bakudanyaki model, are yatai, or mobile food carts selling various hot foods. In this case, Shoryumen is a ramen stop, while Fumisen sells a variety of temaki, or what they call, "gourmet sushi cones".
Since I visited Tenku Bakudanyaki last, they've relocated about 10 meters north, and an inukshuk composed of shipping containers has been erected by the city of Richmond as a welcome to the Olympic tourists visiting the Olympic Oval which is a mere two blocks away.
When I *finally* got to the location (after circling a bit, and doing a couple u-turns on Gilbert road), I was greeted by H and (e) and after glancing around a bit, we entered the stall that is Shoryumen. Being that it was, essentially, a cart, I was impressed how sturdy it was and how the proprietor, Kan Odaka had accomplished a clean look by simple wood grain and black countertop. The intimate environment also allowed us to chat with him while we ordered and ate our ramen.
The customization is what is key in Kan`s budding yatai mura / food stall village. At Shoryumen, you can choose from four soup bases, including Kuro, a soy sauce-based soup, Aka, miso, En, sea salt, or Ton, rich pork stock. In addition to soup base, you may choose from a variety of toppings, including seaweed, bean sprouts, fishcake, egg, bamboo shoots, green onions, pork, corn, butter, cabbage, kimchi, black mushroom, pickled plum, garlic chips, and wild vegetables. Toppits are $1/each or $3 for four toppings. All orders come with seaweed, veggies and green onion; you may order additional noodles, vegetables, or meat for $2 extra.
I ordered the Ton soup base with fish cake and corn, while H ordered an Aka soup base with pork and corn. After learning that take out was available, (e) ordered a Ton ramen to go. You know, he was full from his milk-brunch that he'd had before. ;) Just kidding. (e) ordered it for his daddy!
(e) had the best seat in the house. That kids got VIP schmoozing skills man!
As mobile food carts can create a lot of waste, Shoryumen offers a solution - purchase a reusable bowl for only $2.25, or bring your own bowl in and they will take 50 cents off your order!
As for the ramen? It was done perfectly al dente, and the broth (I can only speak for the Ton) was rich and flavourful. As I stood there finishing my meal (I am one of the slowest eaters evaaar.), I decided that the "butter" topping made perfect sense - adding butter to the Ton soup base would make it decadently rich. Would someone like to accompany me in the near future? :)
H found her Aka soup base very flavourful as well. The pork in both cases was tender and added to the experience.
I cannot express how excited I am that there is an accessible ramen place that I can go to solo without feeling out of place. Yes, I know there are other ramen places in Richmond, but there are huge lineups and waits at those locations for lunch. I hope Shoryumen doesn't get *too* crazy busy in the next bit, I am hoping to make regular visits to satisfy my ramen pangs!
Fumisen is another "customize your meal" yatai.
You start by choosing from a nori / seaweed or soy crepe wrapper, then your rice. There are about eight proteins to choose from, and you can also select two extra "vegetable" toppings and from a selection of four sauces. So by my calculations, that makes for 10368 possible combinations! ...right? Please correct me if I'm wrong - it's been a while since I've done "real" math and although I aced math in high school, I just spent about ten minutes checking my math and I'm not sure I'm right. Help!
Edit: Thanks to Kim, the actual number of combinations available is 4608. Here's a curveball though. Notice how both H & myself got tobiko, apple and avocado? I guess if the chef is happy that day, there will be about 10752 possible combinations?
Here is (e) trying to make up his mind while looking at the Fumisen board. Decisions, decisions...
As Kan had suggested trying the apple topping to add texture and flavour to our sushi cone selection, and to try the soy crepe, we obediently did - on all three orders!
The man pictured above takes down your order (pen and paper - afterall, if anything, I think I pointed out that there are a LOT of combinations, yes?), then washes his hands and starts your order. Afterward, the cones are placed in the plastic holder above.
Pictured above: (1) Soy crepe, salmon rice, unagi, tobiko, apple and avocado with wasabi mayo for H, (2) Soy crepe, sushi rice, crab cake (kamaboko), tobiko, apple and avocado with wasabi mayo for me, and (3) Soy crepe, sushi rice, scallop, topiko, apple, and avocado and wasabi mayo for OH, Hs' hubs. Yes, I know...we're so original that we ordered the exactly same "veggie" toppings. :p It was good though - and although the cones were accompanied with a packet of soy sauce, it was unnecessary as the cones were flavourful enough.
Kan has big plans - plans to open a stall for eating / waiting, a dessert stall, as well as plans to open other yataimura in other locations. And Yum-O-Rama is looking forward to it!
12831 Clarke Pl
Twitter: @yatainoodles @bakudanyaki
More photos at my flickr set.
A post in Chinese about Fumisen and Shoryumen at VincentandKimmy.com. Sweet, I'm learning Chinese by osmosis! :)