[This article written by Reeve Baily. No reason you can't write for Wallyhood, either!]
On Friday, I wandered into the little retail space in-between May and Issian restaurants on 45th hoping to get the scoop on what they were planning for the new space, and here’s what I found out.
The same Japanese parent company that owns and runs Issian (which is actually a chain in Japan) will be opening “Ramen Man”.
I sat down with Yuta Sugimoto (who also manages Issian) to dig a little deeper.
R: Okay first of all, my knee-jerk reaction is…there are already six Japanese restaurants within a block of your chosen location, did you consider that in your business plan prior to breaking ground for “Ramen Man”?
Y: Yes, you’re right, there are many options for Japanese cusine around here, but we are all doing different things. Miyabi concentrates on Soba…Yoroshiku, while they do Ramen occasionally, is really more Yakatori and Hokkaido cuisine. Kozue does great family style and set plate menus. Shima will have some great seasonal sushi you just won’t find anywhere else. And Musashi, well, that tells its own story. I get together with their different chefs and managers and we have drinks, sharing ideas etc. So we are all good friends here.
Y: Yes, exactly….and the fact is, since Yoroshiku and Miyabi have opened, our own business (at Issian) has gone up as well. You know if you ask people where to get real Japanese food, they don’t say to go the ID or Belltown or anywhere else, it’s Wallingford. So opening here makes perfect sense.
R: That’s great. When you opened Issian it seemed like you had an initial rush but then it quieted down.
Y: Well of course some of that was the economy…but when we started (Issian) we were really more Japanese fusion, perhaps more tailoring to an American palette. Then after a while we started leaning back towards authentic Japanese, I was born and raised in Japan and that’s really what I know. I think word got around and we have actually been much busier. Having a Happy Hour, a late night Happy Hour has really been a draw, too.
R: So back to “Ramen Man”, I confess ignorance here but when I think of ramen I think of a little hard block of dehydrated dry noodles and little foil bouillon packets. I might not have made it through college without them.
Y: (Laughs) Well this will definitely be a large step above what you are used to then. With ramen the first, the most important ingredient is actually the broth. We went all over the U.S. and Japan to come up with a favorite. Ours will be using a recipe from a famous ramen restaurant in Kumamoto Prefecture. That’s on [the Japanese island] Kyushu. We have asked them to make a special broth just for us. Their owner, and head chef are here, right now to help us open up.
I didn’t get a chance to ask Yuta about the specifics of what patrons will be able order on top of their ramen, but they plan to open as early as Tuesday, October 15th so it won’t be long before we can find out for ourselves. They will be open for lunch 12 – 2:30pm and dinner 5:00 – 9:00pm. Closed Mondays.
Cold winter, hot ramen. Sounds good to me.