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.