Imaginative Owner goes Old School with New Ramen Joint

Bachi Burger chef/owner Lorin Watada is backing away from inventive burgers and side dishes and stepping toward a time-honored Japanese food: ramen.

Watada’s newest restaurant Shoku Ramen Ya, opened last week and focuses on getting ramen right. “When it comes to ramen, I am more of a purist. When I was in Japan the people that just did the basics and done right was one the best eating experiences that I had,” explains Watada.

Now eliminate that image in your head of microwavable ramen that starving college students survive on. Traditionally, ramen is a Japanese noodle dish with a meat- or fish-based broth that has a miso or soy sauce flavoring. Watada is working with a company that makes 70 different types of Japanese noodles and will ship these noodles twice a week. All of Shoku’s other ingredients are coming from local farms. Menu examples include a pork-based broth from Southern Japan, a Lobster miso broth, a spicy miso and a Northern Japan seafood-based broth. While the menu is small, Watada promises that it will expand over time and begin to incorporate more like duck and shrimp.

Why does tradition matter with ramen and not with burgers? The broth of the dish is the most important ingredient, Watada says. “If you don’t start with a good base, um you aren’t gonna make it because people go for the broth. Now I mean there are a lot of variations that you can do with the broth, but if you don’t an initial broth base correct, you aren’t building a good foundation for your menu.”

As the owner and chef of a gourmet/fusion burger restaurant, fans expected Watada to create large deviations from the conventional ramen. “What I am trying to do more is highlight strong and quality ingredients more than anything else. Very few people can get really good ramen correctly. That’s a challenge within itself, but I’m looking at to replicate it and do it traditionally great.” Shoku is currently open and is located 470 East Windmill Lane, suite 110 with prices ranging from $8 to $11.

~ Agnes Poliquin, Eater Vegas, December 7, 2012