By Elena Kadvany
Tokyo ramen shop to open first U.S. outpost in Palo AltoUploaded: Aug 18, 2017
Ramen Nagi, a Tokyo-born string of ramen shops, is planning to open its first United States location in downtown Palo Alto.
Ramen Nagi has filed planning applications with the City of Palo Alto at 541 Bryant St.
Satoshi Ikuta founded the first Ramen Nagi in 2004, according to the restaurant's website. He met Ryoichi Nishio, a "lieutenant" for the restaurant, in 2005 at a ramen competition, according to the website.
Since then, many locations throughout Asia — in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai, the Philippines and elsewhere — have opened, with more planned this year.
Stanley Ko, Nishio's business partner, said in an interview that Ramen Nagi is, "for ramen purists and ramen fans, one of the darlings of the ramen scene."
A bowl of Ramen Nagi ramen. Photo courtesy Ramen Nagi.
The restaurant reportedly won best Tokyo Ramen of the Year Award in 2013, according to news outlets. In a 2014 interview about one of the Philippines restaurant openings, Satoshi said he is "very particular with the richness of the soup broth, the taste and texture of the noodles and the quality of the ingredients."
Although the Ramen Nagi menu features traditional pork broth alongside squid ink, spicy miso and an Italian pesto-like version, Satoshi said that he doesn't consider his ramen "fusion."
"Ramen helps me communicate with people," he said in the interivew. "My way of reaching out to them is to use the most popular local ingredient the country has to offer. I also get inspired by the country's most popular dish." (A "Philippine ramen," he added, would feature crispy sisig.)
Why open Ramen Nagi's first U.S. restaurant in Palo Alto, versus somewhere like New York City or San Francisco?
Nishio has visited, Ko said, and "likes Palo Alto very much."
A planning application shows a rendering of proposed storefront modifications for Ramen Nagi's forthcoming Palo Alto location. Courtesy City of Palo Alto.
"We felt this was a good time to explore opportunities in the U.S. market," he said.
Dedicated ramen eateries are few and far between in Palo Alto. There's Dohatsuten on San Antonio Road and the recently opened Ichimi Ramen & Rolls on University Avenue.
Ko declined to share further details about the Palo Alto location's menu, which is still in the works. They're hoping to be open by early 2018. Stay tuned.