March seems a bit early for year-end predictions, but 2016 is shaping up to be the year of chef-driven ramen shops in Kansas City.
Columbus Park Ramen Shop by Josh and Abbey-Jo Eans hit the noodle out of the park late last fall.
Domhnall Molloy, Andy Lock and Po Wang of Summit Bar & Grill started offering a Tuesday night ramen pop-up at their Waldo location while they look for a permanent space for a shop.
In mid-April, Komatsu Ramen, a collaboration by Il Lazzarone owner Erik Borger and Kuushi pop-up chef Joe West, is slated to open at 3951 Broadway.
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Which is fine with Patrick Curtis, chef/owner of Shio Ramen Shop, set to open mid-March in the former FooDoo space at 3605 Broadway.
“Every other city I go to has multiple ramen shops,” he says. “There are so many styles of ramen, it’s limitless. I think we’re all really going to help each other.”
Shio will kick off with four bowls: a traditional Japanese sea salt-based pork or chicken broth known as shio; shoyu, or soy-based broth; a vegan ramen; and a fourth daily special bowl that will probably include fusion variations, perhaps a carbonara ramen in a Parmesan-truffle broth, or a corned beef ramen for St. Patrick’s Day.
“We’re part of a barbecue culture, and I’m sure there’s a way to put that in a soup,” he adds.
Curtis has worked at a number of Kansas City restaurants, including 40 Sardines, Port Fonda and JP Wine Bar.
He got interested in ramen while living in Portland. Although he has never been to Japan, he’s relying on his classical chef training and a short course he took at the Yamato Noodle School (maker of the Japanese ramen machine he bought) to help him work out any remaining kinks.
Shio has only 24 seats (the cool wooden chairs and tabletops are from Ikea), and the noodle-eating public is quickly learning ramen shops frown upon those who are slow to slurp. But that inherent brusqueness is based on practical considerations rather than a lack of hospitality.
“Ramen is a food meant to be eaten quickly,” Curtis explains. “The noodles go into the broth and continue to cook, so they can become overcooked and mushy if you don’t slurp them quick.”
▪ Shio Ramen Shop, 3605 Broadway, 816-541-3215, facebook/ShioRamenShop