Tastemakers :: Ramen Tatsu-Ya

By Elizabeth Winslow

I’ve waited in line for lots of things: concert tickets, elections, and a new drivers’ license. But never, until recently, for ramen noodles. All that changed with the much-anticipated opening of Ramen Tatsu-Ya last year, a wildly delicious mecca of authentic ramen, gritty swank and super cool audio vibes. Owners Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto bring a hip sensibility to an otherwise nondescript strip center on the north side of town and sling steaming bowls of rich, porky, umami-filled broth and noodles; siblings to the owners Shion Aikawa and Chiai Matsumoto keep the front of the house (designed in splashy urban style with DIY flair by McCray & Co) rocking with a friendly, fast-paced energy. We joined the crew to talk food and inspiration as they were getting pumped up for service last week, and marveled as a line formed around the building before the doors opened. Eager customers still waiting in line a year later? You bet your chashu, they are. It’s that good.

*photography by Thomas Winslow

Ramen Tatsu-ya on Urbanspoon

The one cooking tool you can’t live without:

Tatsu: A Knife. In Japanese cooking, cutting is cooking. Different ingredients call for very specific cuts for different purposes, like sashimi.

Tako: A chef’s knife, although it doesn’t get much use these days.

Favorite summer cocktail:

We’ve gotten hooked on aguas frescas. Basically, just fresh fruit blended with ice and simple syrup, and any of them are great with vodka!

Favorite summer recipe:

Tatsu: Anything with cucumbers. I love the smell.

Tako: Okra, diced tomatoes, smoked onions, minced garlic, bourbon, and Worcestershire sauce. It’s pretty good with a steak and home fries or tater tots.  I don’t have much time to cook away from work these days, so if I do it’s usually something that can be made quickly.

If you could pass on one trick or technique to a newbie cook, what would it be?

Tako: How to peel thousands of soft boiled eggs… like a boss.

Tatsu: Think like you’re playing chess in kitchen: work, clean and keep your knives sharp.

What would we be surprised to hear you eat on a regular basis?

Tako: Burgers at 3am, they’re fast and cheap.

Chiai: Banh mi… I love sandwiches because they’re easy, versatile, and delicious.


Your favorite ingredient:

Tatsu: Kombu and bushi

Tako: I like salty things — soy sauce, capers, olives, anchovies, miso… If used correctly, salt enhances so many other flavors.


The meal you will never forget:

Tatsu: My first ramen experience; Akelarre in San Sabastian; Urasawa in LA; Japanese breakfast. But overall, just good ol’ mom’s cooking.

Kitchen Inspirations :: Inspired by Ramen Tatsu-Ya’s new lunchtime Ol’ Skool Ramen, we tried out and loved this Sesame and Chile Ramen (Tantanmen) recipe from Saveur Magazine.

Your earliest cooking or food memory:

Tako: Making scrambled eggs with our mom and realizing how easy it was.

Shion: When I was five years old in Japan, my neighbor, a local chef and restaurant owner, would take us to pick strawberries. I remember picking as many as I could, and dipping them in condensed milk.

See more of Elizabeth’s work on Haymakers

Comments (1)

  1. Dominique Paolini says:

    My husband and I love that place. <3 The pork belly, the marinated eggs…. Mmm!

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