One of my coworkers is a really good bargain hunter (when it comes to coupons anyways). One morning, she got really really excited about this Groupon that came out for Maruko Japanese Noodle House – for $25, you could order $60 worth of food. She had an additional $5 discount coupon for Groupon, so for $20, we could order $60 worth of ramen! It was practically impossible to pass off this opportunity, so she bought it and we went straight for Maruko a few days later.
It’s a bit out of the way from where most office buildings are, so one reason they put out this Groupon might have been to attract some lunch time customers. The noodle house is close to Robson and Jervis, so it’s not exactly near where all the other ramen places are nor are they particularly convenient. The good thing about that, though, is they didn’t have a lineup during the lunch hour. The place was small so the five of us that went were seated promptly by the bar.They have a lot of ramen options and a pretty decent array of side dishes.
We decided to each order a ramen and share some sides. The first side that arrived was the Sausage and Mayo. It was pretty standard – grilled sausage and some mayo sauce. Nothing outstanding here. (I think there were 5 pieces but my coworkers got to it before I could snap a picture!).
The Special Pork and Egg was better. I didn’t touch this egg since I ordered extra egg with my ramen, but the pork was tender, fatty, and flavourful.
Interestingly, they seemed to use a different pork in the Kimchi and Pork. This one was a bit tougher and not as fatty. Kimchi is standard.One of my coworkers ordered the Spicy Miso Ramen and added some Almond Jelly on the side. She said that it wasn’t all that spicy (for reference, she can take level 5-6 at Jinya), but the ramen was good. She also enjoyed the almond jelly.
My other coworker got the Maruko Shoyo Ramen. This ramen is supposed to have a blend of three soy sauces for triple the flavour and the pork broth was supposed to have been cooked for 10-hours.
She said it was really rich, but really really fatty. I didn’t taste it, so I have no clue – she said that it was like the pork fat was coagulating in the broth as she was eating it! Yuuuumm…or groooossss….
The Kuro Maruko seemed a lot more garlic-y than the Jinya Black. To me, that’s a great addition of flavour. One of my coworkers, though, preferred the flavour of the broth at Jinya over Maruko’s. I found that the broth here was less oily. The portions here also seem bigger – the pork slices are pretty huge.
They’re thick, but still very tender. The noodles are great and are on par with Jinya’s.
One thing that really disappointed me was the egg. I ordered extra eggs in expectation that they would be the same style of flavoured soft-boiled egg one gets at all ramen places. This one, however, had the yolk too far done. I love the gooey-ness of the egg at Jinya and Santouka. The eggs at Maruko needs some work (but that’s just my personal preference!).
Overall, the ramen tastes slightly better than Jinya. At its price-point and location, I probably would not go back. If I were in the area, I would probably just walk further down and hit up either Santouka or Kintaro. There might have been MSG in the broth, as we all got hit by some crazy food coma when we got back to the office. With a Groupon like this though, totally different story. I do hope they manage to keep getting customers, but they are really going to have to differentiate if they want to survive.