LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

Ramen bar set to open in downtown Lawrence


Ramen may never be the same again in Lawrence. And that's saying something because in this college town, ramen has been prepared in many different ways, and appeared in many different places. (I'm pretty sure there are still ramen noodles stuck to the ceiling of my old college apartment kitchen.)

But forget your college experiences with ramen. Plans are in the works for a new downtown ramen bar that aims to bring the Asian noodle dish to a new level in Lawrence.

Ramen Bowls hopes to open by Oct. 1 at 125 E. 10th Street, the former location of Queen Lizzy's Fish & Chips. Shantel Grace and her husband, Tim Grace, are opening up the shop after spending several years living in Hawaii, where ramen was a mainstay on restaurant menus. In fact, the couple researched it and found there were no fewer than 170 restaurants in Hawaii that featured ramen on their menus.

"We fell in love with the style of food, and realized there was something missing in our lives when we moved here," said Shantel,

As you can imagine, the couple didn't fall in love with the Styrofoam cup version of the dish that can be found on the bottom shelves of many a grocery store. Instead, these ramen dishes feature ancient recipes that sometimes take hours to prepare.

It certainly will take hours for the ingredients to arrive. The restaurant plans to have their noodles flown in overnight from a factory in Hawaii until the restaurant can make the significant investment in its own noodle-making machine. (That sounds about like my college ramen experience. Well, the part about noodles airborne, anyway.)

"It begins with the noodles for us," Shantel said. "They'll always be fresh."

The broth also will be more sophisticated than area residents normally experience. Some of the broths will take upwards of eight hours to prepare. In fact, true ramen chefs make adjustments to their water mixtures as the seasons change to ensure their dishes come out just right.

Neither of the Graces, who met at KU and returned recently after having their first child, are trained ramen chefs. Shantel is a former food writer in Hawaii, and Tim was a consultant in the shipping industry. The couple has hired a ramen consultant from Singapore to provide training.

As for dishes that will be on Ramen Bowls' menu, Shantel said there will be a variety of ramen dishes including vegetarian, meat- and seafood-based dishes. For example, she said a signature dish is likely to be Shoyu Ramen, which is a wheat noodle with soy sauce and pork-based broth, topped with char siu, which are thin slices of pork.

"It is just a really good, salty, comfort-food type of soup," Shantel said.

The restaurant also expects to have some Japanese-style dumplings and some island-inspired dishes such as shrimp fried rice and garlic shrimp.

The restaurant will be designed in a ramen bar format, meaning the center of the restaurant will feature an open kitchen where diners can sit and watch the ramen chef. The restaurant also plans to serve a variety of Japanese beers.

I'd be careful with those, though. I think that's how the noodles got on the ceiling.


tomatogrower 4 years, 9 months ago

When I first saw this headline, I thought "yuck". But after realizing it's not the cheap prepared stuff, I decided I will have to try it.

frank regnier 4 years, 9 months ago

Lived on Oahu back in 1962 thru 1968 and I can honestly say that there is a big difference in "Cup of Soup" and what the Graces are trying to describe. My parents would take us to this little restaurant in town every weekend. It was nothing fancy but Ramen was the main attraction. My siblings and I would be served a bowl of these noodles. Fifty years later, I can still remember the soup! It had thin slices of chinese flavored red pork, green onions, sliced boiled eggs and shrimp in it. My brother and sister also still remember how good it was. After moving from the islands, we could no longer find it anywhere. Not at least with the same flavor and texture. I am excited to give the Graces place a try! Also, Kirin or Asahi Beer! Awesome! I hope the Graces have better luck in that location than the others who tried to make it there. Either rent is way too high, poor types or restaurants, or just a bad luck location. It seems like others just haven't had much luck there. I do hope the Graces have better luck because this is an awesome idea!

Sherry Warren 4 years, 9 months ago

There are some great segments about real ramen in the Mind of a Chef series on Netflix.

shotgun 4 years, 9 months ago

I thought the only reason to eat Ramen was because you could not afford anything else. Why go out to eat it?

tolawdjk 4 years, 9 months ago

Why go out for Italian when you can pop a can of sphegehti'O's?

Ramen is the style of noodle and the way it is served rather than a brand. Much like if you make a "Xerox" on a Sony copying machine.

Rae Hudspeth 4 years, 9 months ago

I'd love to see them do a rice-based or that seaweed based (ie, gluten-free) version.

blindrabbit 4 years, 9 months ago

If they are familiar with Hawaiian cusine (since WW2) how about some creative Spam (food not computer) dishes. Spam is a favorite in Hawaii, Guam and many other outlier locations made popular during meat rationing during WW2. We have fixed many dishes including Spam sushi. Best of luck, that location is a challenge.

foxli 4 years, 9 months ago

Better than that, Kailua Pork. My husband and I visited the big island last year, and he's been dying for Kailua Pork ever since. And if they brought some Longboard beer over, too, I certainly wouldn't object to Wailua Wheat.

Frank A Janzen 4 years, 9 months ago

Here in Lawrence there are several places that serve different but similar noodle dishes. Little Saigon on 23rd St. for pho, the Udon place in the 23rd and Louisiana "Louisiana Purchase" for udon, and the Noodle place at 8th and Mass downtown. And plenty of Internet sites that look at the difference between pho and ramen (although most people on those sites think of ramen as the instant variety you get in grocery stores). http://www.yelp.com/topic/los-angeles-whats-the-differece-between-pho-chinese-noodle-bowl-and-japanese-ramen

rumor_man 4 years, 9 months ago

That does it! I'm going to have to open a "Vienna Sausage" restaurant now.

Currahee 4 years, 9 months ago

Why does it seem like with asian dishes they always have to say "ancient" this or "ancient" that? Does it make it look more exotic?

Bob Forer 4 years, 9 months ago

I am sure it will be a lot more expensive that the twenty odd cents a package costs at the grocery store. Assuming their food costs are going to be well below the 1/3 of price as is standard in the restaurant industry, they are still going to have to serve a heck of a lot of people to pay for that downtown rent. Sounds like they are investing a lot of money and time in their restaurant. Sounds like it will be delicious food. I wish them the best of luck.

Lanaimel 4 years, 9 months ago

I just moved here from Hawaii and I'm very excited to try their saimin! I hope they also have mac salad and rice to go with their entrees!

George_Braziller 4 years, 9 months ago

Might as well start saving up for the brown paper to cover the windows after yet another restaurant goes out of business at that location. I've lost track of how many have been there.

The place must be cursed because 18-24 months is all any of them have lasted. Tenth Street Vegetarian Bistro closed with less than 24 hours notice. I had some of my art hanging there and was notified at 8:00 p.m. I needed to pick everything up before midnight because after that the keys were going to be turned over to the building owner and I wouldn't be able to get in.

Gareth Skarka 4 years, 9 months ago

The restaurants in that location have been unable to withstand the sheer CRAZY of the individual who they lease the space from. I advise the Graces to start looking for another location immediately.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 9 months ago

Awwww. Don't we need some more pizza and mexican food?

Lauren Reinhold 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, a gluten free version would be great. (I know, I can hear a collective groan here...)

Radar Callaway 4 years, 9 months ago

My first ramen noodles were made by some friends from Okinawa. So much better than the Styrofoam cup versions.

thebigspoon 4 years, 9 months ago

It can't be cheap to have the noodles flown in ? I hope they get their noodle machine in place quickly...

Shantel Grace 4 years, 9 months ago

Thanks Chad for the mention in Town Talk.

We're excited to read that people are, at the very least, curious about ramen. We understand that the space has been a challenge in the past, but we've hired an incredibly creative, local construction company that is turning that space into a real ramen bar, complete with a brand new kitchen and dining area. Beyond that, we have a strong plan in place to let people know where we are, and why it's worth their time in stopping by. Soon, you'll see us on the street, saying hello, and... we have a voodoo doctor coming in to lift the curse of 125 E 10th St.

We love Lawrence. We love KU. And we're proud to invest our future in this special town.

All are invited.

Mahalo nui loa,

Tim and Shantel Grace Ramen Bowls ramenbowls.com (coming soon!)

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