Shizuku Ramen, Abbotsford

Shizuku Ramen is a Japanese restaurant located in Abbotsford on Victoria St., easily accessible by tram 109 and a 5 minute walk from North Richmond station. I was actually contacted by the manager to come and try their new improved menu, so a big thanks to David for the invite, and giving us a pleasant dining experience at Shizuku Ramen.

The interior design of the restaurant is quite simple; the walls are all painted black, contrasting with all the cool wooden lights hanging from the ceiling, and it actually isn't too dark inside despite the dark walls. Each table comes with a bottle of water in a funky design, and a range of cutlery sits in a small glass to one side. Soft japanese music plays in the background, and there's a good, light atmosphere to the place.


Initially, we were told that the complimentary meal would only consist of items from the ramen section of the menu, and we happy to pay to try some of their side dishes as well, but the whole meal turned out to be on the house, and we also got to have dessert as well. Service was extremely fast; almost after we ordered, we were presented with a whole of pickled radishes and carrots sliced thinly, and our other dishes came quite quickly afterwards as well. I initially thought this pickled vegetable dish was complimentary for all customers, but after closer inspection of the menu, realised it was actually one of the sides that cost $6. This dish was really refreshing, not too strongly marinated or acidic, and was a great way to start our meal. The crunch from the vegetables and the sesame seeds on top went well with everything else we ordered, and the acidity helped balance flavours, but to be honest I probably wouldn't have ordered this dish if I had to pay, as I think it's a bit expensive given the simplicity of it.


There's a range of gyoza on the menu (pan fried dumplings), and we decided to try the spicy gyoza ($10 for six pieces); traditional gyoza that consisted of pork mince, cabbage and spring onions, with the addition of a miso chilli jam and leek on top. This was a really enjoyable dish; the gyoza was crispy on one side with lovely smooth, soft, thin skin on the other. It was definitely quite spicy and might not be suited for those who can't really take chilli, though my friend and I both thought you couldn't really taste the miso flavour in the jam. Either that, or it was completely overpowered by the chilli and its heat.


We also got two ramen dishes to share - an ebi shio ramen and the ramen burger with candied pork belly (both $15). The Ebi Shio Ramen had a Hakata sea salt flavoured broth, and consisted of fresh prawns and vegetables, with scallop infused oil. I was surprised that the broth wasn't actually too salty to the point where you had to keep drinking water to cleanse the palette, thought you could definitely taste the flavours of it. The prawns had good elasticity and were fresh, and the presentation of the dish was really hearty and homey - like a home cooked meal you'd have in winter. However, we couldn't really taste the scallop oil (though we could see the oil on the broth quite clearly), and the noodles didn't have much elasticity - they went soft when the dish was left for awhile. However, the broth itself did stay relatively warm through the whole meal, and there was a good range of vegetables - carrots, cabbage, bok choy and onions.


I'd heard of ramen burgers for awhile now but never got around to trying it, and it was an interesting experience to say the least. However, I think that given my love of burgers, I still prefer the normal ones with bread buns! Ramen burgers are the same as normal burgers, except that the buns are replaced by ramen that has been boiled and then fried for a slightly crunchy, golden brown texture. This dish was extremely filling, though I thought there was probably too much ramen in comparison to the candied pork belly and salad greens. The noodle 'buns' had a very slight crunch, but for the most part was soft. The pork belly was standout of the dish, as it was slightly sweet, salty and the meat tender and soft, balancing out the noodles and salad greens with its heavier flavours. The dish also came with a bowl of miso soup that was slightly on the salty side when it went cold, and only had seaweed in it and no tofu pieces.


For dessert, we were given the option of having either the almond tofu or the espresso pudding (though there's a few other items on the dessert menu), and we decided to go with the almond tofu ($6.90). Both my friend and I really enjoyed this dish as it was very refreshing, cool and light, with a good almond flavour that wasn't overpowering. There was also a slight milky taste to the tofu, which had a really smooth texture and wasn't grainy at all. It came in a really cute small pot, with some fruit on top that balanced out the sweetness and gave it some acidity.


Given that this was Japanese food, my friend and I were feeling surprisingly full by the end of the meal, thought to be honest we had ordered more than we normally would have for a lunch meal. The staff member who served us was really friendly and helpful in answering all our questions about the dishes, and we never had to wait around too long if we needed something. The menu is really extensive, especially the side dishes that are designed to be shared between people, but I do think that in general the prices at Shizuku Ramen are a higher than most Japanese places I've been to, with the same quality of food. For this reason, I probably wouldn't visit it again unless I was in the area and wanting to have Japanese food.

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