Puff, Puff, Pass the Ramen
Certain foods are synonymous with stoners: Pizza, tacos and especially Asian cuisine of any kind is always satisfying. Often for foodies, a collision of flavors needs to pile up to kick our taste buds into overdrive and Ramen often feeds those cravings. A bowl of slurpable noodles ensconced in a warm cozy broth is enough to make you go “Mmmmm!” But add a buttery slab of Chashu pork belly, a golden-centered hard boiled egg, some charred cabbage or a variety of pungent fermented vegetables and it suddenly becomes a feast for the senses. Knowing this, chef Luke Reyes and his new 9th Street Ramen aim to elevate the LA ramen scene.
“I think what sets us apart from other Ramen shops is that every ingredient we put in from the water to the noodles is the best version of that “ingredient,” adds chef Luke Reyes. A solid Ramen operation often involves a lot of spinning plates and Reyes knew that in order to attract the noses of new customers—especially those well-versed in soup cuisine—he had to elevate the concept beyond the bowl. With that in mind, vegetables are sourced straight from the California soil and Reyes devoted two years perfecting his wheat and rye Ramen noodle to compliment the broths. That base is courtesy of “a reverse osmosis filtration system to start with the cleanest, sediment and chlorine free water to make our ramen broths,” he says acknowledging that similar to good pizza dough, it’s all in the water.
The restaurant is brand new for 2020 and has already received critical acclaim. A lot of that attention was earned not only a result of shared taste but also design aesthetics. Partner Devin Carlson comes from fashion where high design doesn’t stop at the way a garment drapes on your frame. Interiors also need to pop and arrest your attention down to every last detail.
As a result, the look and feel of 9th Street Ramen’s is heavily influenced by Carlson’s jaunts to Japan where even a diminutive destination whiskey bar will make you feel like you’ve discovered something special. “To compliment the food, we put a tremendous amount of thought into the interior design, signage, beverage menu and music to create an environment that would allow people to holistically experience our vision of a truly unique ramen shop,” adds Carlson with a nod to his Japanese design influences.
Lucky for 9th Street Ramen, the praise from press came right before we as a nation came together in solidarity to slow down the spread of Coronavirus. Orders to stay at home have ravaged the hospitality industry so 9th Street extended a helping hand with a free meal to aid those affected by cutbacks and restaurant closures. Reyes “decided to try to make take home ramen kits for hospitality folks that have been laid off, had their hours cut or lost their jobs completely. Even if it’s just one meal or a thing that they take home and give them something to do to take your mind off of the current situation it just seems like a brainer for us.”
Ramen will always reign supreme in the munchie hierarchy so consider supporting 9th Street for your next meal, make sure to add them to the top of the list when dining in becomes a thing again and please donate as a way to feed some friends.