By: Sara Wong, SFU Student
One of my favourite aspects about being a foodie is sharing my thoughts and experiences on a plethora of restaurants. Often, I get asked for recommendations on places that are both tasty and student budget-friendly. When someone hears “student budget-friendly,” they often think of the stereotypical university diet of instant noodles and Hot Pockets. In other words, people believe there are limited options when going out to eat on a student budget. Well, I’m here to change that! If you want cheap eats that don’t sacrifice flavour or portion size, look no further than Riz Sushi & Poke and Kamamarui Ramen & Don.
Poké has been a popular food trend for a few years now, and Vancouver is still obsessed with this Hawaiian rice bowl. You’ll have no trouble finding a poké place in Metro Vancouver (there’s even one at SFU’s UniverCity), but none compare to Riz. The poké at Riz hits the poké trifecta: it’s affordable, delicious, and fulfilling!
A small poké bowl here costs $10.50, which, compared to similarly-sized bowls at competing poké bars, is the cheapest I’ve found. Furthermore, compared to other poké bars, the flavours at Riz are unrivaled. They only use fresh seafood, which actually does make a difference. Another component of their poké that I appreciate is the sauce, which is evenly distributed. I usually get one of the aioli options because it adds a richness to the dish (as aiolis are mayonnaise-based), but if you’re more of a purist, you can ask for less sauce or opt for a ponzu instead of an aioli. If you need any more reason to visit Riz, their service is friendly and efficient.
Ramen is another well-established food trend in Vancouver, and with that fame often comes higher prices. However, there are still a few places, such as Kamamarui Ramen & Don, where you can find flavour-forward ramen at an affordable rate. I highly recommend the black garlic flavour because it comes with a larger variety of toppings, such as tree ear mushrooms, bean sprouts, and an onsen egg. Additionally, the broth has multiple dimensions, meaning the flavour profile is not one note and you can taste a difference as you continue to eat. The aforementioned ramen costs around $10.
Another menu item I’d recommend are the rice bombs, which are essentially balls of rice rolled in seaweed seasoning. The rice bombs are the perfect burst of umami to start your meal with. Besides its affordability, I prefer to go to Kamamarui for ramen because it is never too crowded. You won’t have to wait very long to get a table; this is a luxury I’ve yet to see at popular ramen places such as Jinya, where I have experienced wait times of over an hour. Once you’ve ordered, you never have to wait long to receive your food either.
Sometimes it’s hard to go out to eat as a university student because of a lack of convenient location or a lack of funds. Both places I have mentioned do not fall into these categories, so go ahead and treat yourselves! We’re fast approaching the dreary, constantly rainy winter season, so what better way to cheer up than with good food? You deserve it — especially after midterms.
Riz Sushi & Poke is located at 2887 East Broadway in Vancouver, just steps from Renfrew SkyTrain Station on the Millennium Line. Kamamarui Ramen & Don has two locations: 4219 East Hastings Street (along the 95 B-Line route) and 6514 Royal Oak Avenue — a short walk from the Royal Oak SkyTrain Station on the Expo Line.