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
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.
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