Sushi, Izakaya, Ramen. These are the three types of restaurants that made up the triad of Japanese cuisines that are available around where I am working. While most of the town’s best ramen shops are concentrated around the downtown area, once again I am lucky enough to work near one in Kitsilano. How does it compare to the town’s other ramen powerhouses like Santouka and Benkei? Read on to find out.
Q-Go was my introduction to the world of ramen in Vancouver. Before I stepped foot inside Santouka, Benkei, and Sanpachi, there was Q-Go…just a few blocks down from where I work. Around the time when it was first opened, the small shop was always packed, especially on a cold, sunny day. They also offered a stamp card where you get a free ramen after you ordered 10 (separate visits). Ever since my first visit, I have been coming back so regularly that it’s fast becoming my standard lunch hang out spot.
On my very first visit, it was snowing, perfect day for ramen, although my plan was to get some pho next door. Upon ordering, I had the option of picking fatty pork or lean pork. I don’t know how much I can emphasize this, but definitely get the fatty pork. Its taste and texture is just night and day compared to the lean pork. Yes, your cardiologist will tell you to get the lean pork, but just run it off! If you are here for the food, if you are here for the taste, there’s absolutely no reason to get lean.
Now back to the fatty pork. The taste and the texture was divine. The buttery texture and the pork taste just simply melted in my mouth with a surge of foodgasm. Along with the pork, there was a myriad of other toppings that just get into the way of the other superstar of the bowl: the noodles. It was, most of the time, cooked well. It was chewy and not too soft. The broth had depth and rich in taste. I did tried the “rich” broth but I thought it was quite choky, and it was too overpowering. Stick with the regular broth.
Note: The following is no longer offered. Something interesting that caught my eye was one of their special, the cheese ramen. I LOVE cheese, I love their pork, their noodles and broth combo was excellent, so why not have all of them in the same bowl? Soon I was presented with your standard ramen…topped with a mountain of shredded mozzarella cheese. When the cheese was dunk into the hot broth, it melted and created a sandwich around the fatty pork. I said earlier that the fatty pork was already quite rich in taste, but this was ridiculous. You get the googy cheese and fatty pork sandwich combination, and it worked! Along with the noodles in the bowl, this made a very filling meal.
Now I have to be honest. Prior to my pho/ramen phase, I didn’t like noodles. I like rice. So naturally, on one visit, I tried the Chasu Don. Every time I was here, I was the only one ordering it. Their loss. This was really good! You still get the goodness of the pork, but now it’s complemented with drizzled Japanese mayo, two half boiled egg, and rice, which made this dish VERY creamy and will probably put you to sleep when you get back to work.
Updated April 6, 2012: On my latest visit, I noticed they now serve yakitori (grilled, skewered meat). I love yakitori, so I decided to get one of each. First up was the chicken (not pictured), or the “original” Yakitori. It was cooked just right, however I thought it was under seasoned.
Next up was the Butabara (Pork) and the Tontoro (Pork Neck). Again, it was under seasoned. The meat was a little tough but at least the fat in the tontoro added a bit of flavor.
Next was the Gyu (Beef). I was actually disappointed by this. The meat was dry and tough, but at least the browning of the meat added some flavor.
Last up was the Uzura Bacon (Bacon wrapped Quail Eggs). This was probably the better of the bunch, because the bacon itself provided a bit of seasoning to the egg.
Unfortunately their yakitori operations wasn’t quite up to par with specialists like Zakkushi. Maybe if they season their meat or use the traditional charcoal grill (which in itself is another huge investment, for shop that should be specializing in ramen), it would be much better. The Vietnamese restaurant a few doors down have beautifully seasoned skewered meat.
Service was attentive, most of the time, as this is a small shop. However, I have to say they are beginning to cut down on the portion for their delicious pork. First few times I was here, it was two slices. Few months later, it was one big slice. And now, the slices seem to be thinner. Now this is disappointing, as the pork is the #1 reason why I come here. They also seem to mix up with their broth too. A few times I ordered the regular miso, but they replaced it with the rich, yellowish broth which I don’t really like. I hope they smarten up and go back to their old ways so customers will start coming back, as the last couple of times I went, it wasn’t quite as packed.
All in all, Q Go was good. Great before the cut backs. The fatty pork completely steals the show, and there’s absolutely no reason not to order it. You can enjoy the pork in ramen, don (rice), or as a side. If you are in the Fairview/Kitsilano area and is hungering for ramen, which is scarce in the area, definitely give Q-GO a try. Update: Don’t bother with the yakitori.