I had began my quest of learning how to make ramen by way of cook books, and any info I could find. I was hard pressed to find stuff 8 years ago. David Chang’s Momofuku cook book was the first big break I got for recipes and what ramen truly was. Then I found Ivan Orkin’s book. Another huge break through of knowledge and passion about ramen. It was in his book where I learned about the Yamato Noodle School and Yamato noodle machines. I took to google, and I can’t really remember how or where but eventually I was in contact with team Yamato. At that point I was using an Italian table top hand crank pasta machine. I would have to make my dough so wet to get it work.
Anyways, Yamato invited me to the workshop in L.A. which I jumped on and even came back for a second visit to see the machine and the opportunity to meet Mr. Fujii. What I learned in these classes was GROUNDBREAKING for me. The science, the ratios, the different types of ramen noodles, the history. It was a giant turning point in my pursuit of opening my own ramen shop. Now, seeing the machine work for the first time absolutely blew my mind. I couldn’t believe how dry the dough was, and how perfectly stable the consistency of the cut noodles was too. I was astounded. The price scared me a lot. I looked and looked for other alternatives. I found nothing that could compare to the Yamato machine, so I booked my 2nd trip to L.A. to see it again – and it was then when I decided that I would without a doubt be buying a Yamato machine.
Next was finding the right location and space for my ramen shop. That took over 2 years of just missing places or looking at terrible ones. Then I found where I am at now – a place with an incredibly interesting architecture and atmosphere. To me it felt like an alley. It needed a ton of work and cleaning but we managed to build what I think is a beautiful shop.
I think the hardest parts were naming my restaurant, and finding good quality Japanese ingredients. It is very difficult in the middle of America to find Japanese ingredients. There are many Asian markets but they all had very small and poor quality Japanese selections. Eventually, I was able to find a suitable supplier which has been crucial for Shio – I wanted only the best soy sauces, oils, konbu, etc. and they had it. Finding the flour was the next hard part. Luckily an acquaintance, who I met at the workshops, was able to tell me another local restaurant was gonna to become a distributor of NIPPN ramen flour (Tim of Ramen Bowls). At that point Shio was ready to take off. Yamato has always been there for me to answer questions and give recipes. The finest customer service I have ever experienced from start to present.
It’s been 2 and a half years since we opened, and we are going strong. Constantly being told by customers from Japan that my ramen is as good as what they eat at home. Always surprised when I tell them I have never been to. Ha. I just say I make what I was taught by Yamato, and read in books, some in Japanese, so I just would look at the pictures, and follow instructions there.
Thank you, Yamato.
Mr. Patrick Curtis, owner of Shio Ramen
Kansas City, MO, U.S.A.