Looks like the ramen wars are heating up!
Ramen Sanpachi has taken over the location formerly occupied by Royal Thai - 770 Bute next to Steamrollers. According to the press, this is their first North American location with the next shop opening in Edmonton in January.
The article said that Sanpanchi chose Vancouver due to the success of Santouka in the Vancouver market and our familiarity with ramen. They're planning on rolling out 20 shops on the continent over the next 5 years.They have 69 shops in Japan and already have a few set up in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea. It sounds like the Japanese economy is still in the doldrums, so we may see more ramen chains heading into foreign markets like Canada to grow their business.
Sanpachi website and menu here:
They're in their soft opening phase so not all the menu items are available yet. I'm going to try it this weekend - not crowded yet but that won't last long once word gets out to the ramen aficionados around town.