re VOICE – Hachiro Ramen Bar
“I want to thank the community for being so great and supportive especially during this really hard time for everybody. All my staff have been so great and so strong for me and I wouldn’t be here without them, my friends and my family. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such great people.”
Brooke, owner at Hachiro Ramen Bar
Hachiro Ramen Bar has evolved around Brooke’s Japanese heritage. She loves ramen and she grew up eating it. Also growing up in Pemberton Heights in North Vancouver, she felt that the community needed a really cool ramen restaurant with not just a traditional Japanese cuisine but also with izakaya-style fun appetizers and great drinks. Hachiro, named after her grandfather in Japan, was opened on June 3rd, 2019.
VOICE(V): “Out of all the Japanese food, why ramen?”
Brooke(B): “I went to Japan every summer as a child to visit my grandparents. Japanese food was my big part of growing up, and it still is. Even though my mom is American, my grandmother in Japan taught her how to cook Japanese food so my mom always cooked Japanese food at home when I was growing up. We always had very traditional food like rice, miso soup, katsuo, umeboshi, and onigiri. My dad was in hospitality industry and when he passed away almost 9 years ago, I wanted to do a complete career change and do something that I feel really passionate about. (Brooke was a hair stylist for 17 years!) I have always been passionate about food and cooking, and ramen has been my great passion as well. I wanted to showcase the food of my culture and my experiences growing up in Japan and on the North Shore. This has such a big influence on Hachiro’s establishment. Before Hachiro, I never worked in a restaurant nor served a table in my life. I just dove into this whole new journey of my life as a ramen restaurant owner.”
V: “Tell us about Hachio Ramen.”
B: “At Hachiro, I wanted to cater for everyone whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, or meat eater. We have Tonkotsu, Chicken, Vegetarian and Vegan broth options available. We source all our meats from Cioffi’s on Hasting Street. For Vegetarian broth, we source from local mushroom distributor and use fresh shiitake mushroom as a meat substitute. We prepare our ramen broth overnight and it is a series of such an intense process but it is also a labor of love. Our noodle is from Yamachan in Richmond and we support and collaborate with local brands as much as possible including Sons of Vancouver Distillery and Wildeye Brewing at the bar and Bad Dog Bread chocolate chip cookie on a dessert menu.”
V: “ How did your business adapt to the pandemic?”
B: “At the beginning of the pandemic, I took the full ownership of Hachiro and it was a lot of learning curves for me. It wasn’t easy but I learned so much about everything from my business, the kitchen, and the front. I am still learning every single day but it has made me a better business owner. You learn and grow, and it makes you a strong person.
The first part of the pandemic last year was really scary as I had no idea what we were getting into, I originally had to lay everybody off. Our take out was non-existent, however, it really took our take out business to a whole another level. Eventually I was able to bring back a couple of team members. Elaine, who worked together in the kitchen and the front with me and Spencer, who is a family friend of mine who helped us with a preparation in the kitchen. It was only three of us running Hachiro for 4 months. Then we started to get little busier and with government subsidies, I felt more comfortable bringing back more staff on the team. Once we were able to open, we have made a good combination of dine in and take out.
Then last October, I hired Daigo, now a head chef at Hachiro. Daigo used to work for Orto Artisan Pasta in North Vancouver. Knowing he is a Japanese, I used to have small conversations with him at Orto restaurant whenever I would go there to dine. He came in to Hachiro in October to dine and that was when I found out that he has stepped down from Orto restaurant and was looking for another job. It was perfect timing as I was looking for a head chef at Hachiro. Since Daigo joined us, he has tweaked our Vegetarian broth and also has introduced something new and exciting to our menu including Duck Breast Salad.”
V: “What about the new restrictions?”
B: “It is never fun having restrictions especially when things start to go back to normal soon. The new restrictions were especially devastating for my staff. My heart really hurt for them because it almost reminded them of the last year when a lot of them were laid off with no jobs on the horizon. It was hard to see them that way. Then I got into thinking that maybe I could offer my staff to come in and eat ramen if they are financially struggling. This idea became “Industry Tuesday”. As a thank you to our fellow hospitality people, I am offering any employees in the hospitality industry who are affected by the new restrictions, a free bowl of ramen every Tuesday between 2pm-5pm until the restrictions are lifted. People can enjoy our ramen on our patio or have a take-home ramen kit to give them flexibility of time and convenience.”
V: “What was the community’s response to Industry Tuesday, and also throughout the pandemic?”
B: “House of Funk Brewing called as soon as he saw our Instagram story about Industry Tuesday. He wanted to help out and wanted to drop off free beer for Industry people to accompany with our ramen.
Through the pandemic I have met so many other business owners and I have made some great connections. We, as hospitality business, have all come together and supported each other. Sometimes they come and order take out from us. Sometimes, a fellow North Vancouver restaurant like the Gull Bar and Kitchen, would bring the food here for our staff and I would bring them our food down there to feed their staff. At one time, BETA5 cream puffs got dropped off here! It is so cool to see everybody helping each other and being there for each other, As hard as the pandemic is, I really feel the love and support from everybody. It is very heart warming.”
V: “ What does ramen mean to you?”
B: “Ramen is a comfort food. We live in a rainy city, there is nothing better than to have a nice hot bowl of noodle and soup. It is one of my favorite things to eat. I love feeding people and seeing them enjoy the food we prepare.”
Hachiro Ramen is not just a hip place to have ramen and drinks, but it is becoming a hub for the community and for local small businesses.
Brooke’s recommendation from the menu: Hachiro Fries – beer curry, cheese curds, and scallions. It is Brook’s original recipe. (Add chashu bits to compliment the dish.) Chicken Karaage – a classic ramen sidekick! Daigo’s Duck Breast Salad. And of course, you can’t complete without a nice bowl of Hachiro Ramen.