Ramen Ya Hosaki, when roughly translated from the Japanese, means “ramen shop of a bamboo shoot (Hosaki Menma).” This may sound odd, until you find out that the owner of the future ramen restaurant coming to Upshur Street has always been told he looks a lot like a bamboo shoot: tall, thin and lanky. So he figured, why not own the description?
Eric Yoo has been doing his homework on what makes the perfect ramen for a long time, and he thinks he knows. He’s planning on showing Petworth when he opens Ramen Ya Hosaki at 845 Upshur Street sometime early next year.
A government contractor currently, Eric grew up in the restaurant industry. His parents emigrated from South Korea to Baltimore in the ‘90s and opened up a carry-out restaurant. He understands the time and effort it takes to run a small restaurant, he says. He fell in love with Japanese ramen while in college. He started teaching himself to make his own ramen — the noodles are notably hard to do right. He began following Chef Keizo Shimamoto, who invented the “ramen burger” at the Ramen Shack in New York City — basically a hamburger with buns made of ramen noodles which became an instant hit across the country.
Eric went to New York to learn from Shimamoto, who took him in and taught him about making ramen. From there, Eric took his experience back to the DC area, leading him to open his first restaurant featuring his favorite food. Ramen Ya Hosaki will feature noodles made fresh onsite every day. He is making his broth and toppings from scratch, which he says differentiates him from other places who may use factory-made, concentrated soup stocks and pre-made toppings.
The name is tentative for now, but Eric likes it. He’s put a lot of thought into what the restaurant will look like inside, and the customer experience. The building is slated for redevelopment as a three-story apartment, with the restaurant on the ground floor. With the construction ongoing, it gives Eric a chance to help shape how the restaurant will be designed. He’s focused on the interior feeling like a traditional ramen restaurant like you’d find in downtown Tokyo, soft lighting, wood interiors, smaller tables. (I’ve had the chance to eat at a few ramen places in Tokyo, and they’re pretty cozy.) That said, Eric knows it’s Petworth, not Roppongi, so there will be tables to accommodate families and groups.
The restaurant will offer 45 seats as well as a small back patio. Inside there will be two kitchens, with one prep kitchen in back, and one out front where customers can watch the noodles being made. There will be a very small bar inside, and Eric is looking forward to offering beer and wine pairings to go with the different ramen dishes.
The menu will be small, he said, focusing on traditional and creative takes on ramen dishes. On top of traditional styles like tonkotsu, shoyu and miso, Eric said he is bringing a different style of ramen called tsukemen. Tsukemen is a style where noodles and the concentrated broth comes separately. For every bite, you can dip your noodles into the broth, coating the noodles with the broth’s rich flavor. There will also be donburi appetizers (meat and vegetables over rice) along with few other items.
The restaurant won’t be open soon — demolition of the building started only recently. Eric thinks that the ramen restaurant won’t open it’s doors until next fall or winter at the earliest. Meanwhile he’s trying to get everything set up for the opening. “This is more than a passion,” he said. “I’m excited to have people try ramen and enjoy it as much as I do.”
3/22: Article updated with a bit more info on the tsukemen noodles.