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Oct 21, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘ramen’

First Look: Nudo House in Creve Coeur

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

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After years of anticipation, Nudo House is ready to make its debut. The ramen and pho shop from co-owners Qui Tran and Marie-Anne Velasco is slated to open this weekend on Friday, July 28 or Saturday, July 29.

Tran, whose family also owns Mai Lee in Brentwood, first dropped hints about Nudo in 2014, and the restaurant location was officially announced at 11423 Olive Blvd., in Creve Coeur at the end of 2015. Since then, Tran and Velasco have hosted pop-ups to test recipes and drum up anticipation while they did extensive renovations.

 

Upon entering the 2,300-square-foot space, customers step up to the counter and place their order, then grab a seat and watch as their meals are prepared in the open kitchen. The menu includes spring rolls, a few salads and banh mi, but the staples are the pho and ramen bowls.

The four 3-1-Pho options include beef, chicken, shrimp or a combination of all three. Four ramens are also available: a traditional pork tonkotsu, a spicy miso pork, a chicken option and a mushroom-based vegetarian bowl.

Meals can end with a sweet treat, too. Tran and Velasco installed a soft-serve machine where they will offer rotating flavors like coconut and pandan leaf, passion fruit, lychee or mango.

Nudo will be open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Here’s a First Look at what to expect from this highly anticipated noodle house:

 

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Photos by Michelle Volansky 

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
The Scoop: Qui Tran to open ramen shop Nudo in Creve Coeur

What I Do: Marie-Anne Velasco of Nudo House

The Scoop: Mai Lee’s Qui Tran moves closer to opening a ramen shop

What I Do: Qui Tran of Mai Lee

Best New Restaurants: No. 2 – Vista Ramen

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here, the places that dazzled us from the moment they opened: St. Louis’ 10 Best New Restaurants of 2016.

 

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{ from left, general manager Aaron Stovall, chef Chris Bork and sous chef Zach Siecinski }

 

A glimpse through the large windows at Vista Ramen reveals a slim restaurant filled with smartly dressed young people sipping sake and slurping ramen, bathed in the green glow of that iconic neon sign. This is where the cool kids eat.

The centerpiece is the open kitchen where co-owner and chef Chris Bork transmutes Vista’s chic style from the space to the plates. Bork interprets classic Asian dishes or finds inspiration entirely elsewhere, letting ingredients take the lead. While it’s easy to love something like sticky pork ribs glazed with crab caramel, it’s the attention paid to humble vegetables that sets Vista apart.

Bork is a standard bearer for seasonality, allowing vegetables to express themselves fully on the plate. Take, for example, his raw vegetable salad: Julienned Japanese turnips, carrots, radishes and kohlrabi are tossed with maple vinaigrette, lychee and house-made Chinese bacon and topped with popped sorghum.

Despite the complex, dynamic flavors, Bork’s methods don’t require expensive equipment or extravagant technique. “The treatment is very simple: Don’t fucking cook them to mush,” he said. “Being able to cook a specific vegetable to its right al dente is something that takes time and a lot of finesse. Blanching vegetables properly is an art that I wish more cooks took seriously.”

Vista’s veggie ramen best exemplifies this perfected technique. Vegetables of the moment (turnips, shiitakes, kohlrabi and so on) are individually blanched, then roasted on the flattop to order. Each vegetable retains its identity while swimming with tender alkaline noodles in a rich broth that coats every piece in meat-free umami glory.

After the last summer tomato disappears, it’s easy to give into seasonal despair in an endless parade of roasted root vegetables. Not at Vista. House-made agnolotti are filled with rich miso-pumpkin puree. Butternut squash finds its way into dessert as a delicate panna cotta sprinkled with buttery granola and topped with spheres of poached pear. For this kind of invention, we’ll gladly weather bitter temps and crowds of hipsters to indulge at Vista Ramen.

 

More about Vista Ramen

New and Notable: Vista Ramen

• Hit List: 4 new restaurants you must try this July

• Sneak Peek: Vista Ramen on Cherokee

• The Scoop: Chris Bork, Mud House owners to open Vista Ramen on Cherokee

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Editor’s note: In the print issue, we misspelled Vista Ramen’s name. We have updated this post and the online issue to correct the error. 

What I Do: Marie-Anne Velasco of Nudo House

Monday, October 10th, 2016

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After more than 15 years in Chicago fine dining and the kitchens at The Ritz-Carlton and The Chase Park Plaza, Marie-Anne Velasco will open Nudo House with Mai Lee’s Qui Tran this fall. So how does a former Canadian Culinary Olympian wind up launching a ramen shop with St. Louis’ king of pho? A shared passion for noodle perfection. Here, Velasco shares her formative ramen experiences, her hippie ways and why Nudo must have a soft serve machine.

 

St. Louis, then and now
“It’s a totally different food city. I used to live on that block between the old Niche and Sidney Street. We used to see Kevin (Nashan) all the time or we’d go to Niche for drinks before we had kids. I would just sit there and think, ‘Wow, if only these places were open (everywhere in St. Louis).’ … From five years ago to now, it’s exploded.”

Free spirits of Chesterfield
“(My husband and I) are kind of closet hippies at home. We grow our own vegetables; we make our own kombucha; we make our own yogurt. We try to make and grow everything that we can.”

Aha moment
“It was just this unctuous, thick – it didn’t even feel like broth but everyone was calling it broth, and the noodles were chewy and the egg was custardy. Everything was just a perfect scenario of a food experience. It’s weird when you have that first experience. You just try and chase it.”

Ramen Revolution
“Ippudo (a New York City ramen restaurant) reset my brain, too. After working in all these different ramen places and getting to know the ingredients and the bones and what the procedures are, we sat down at this place and I went, ‘Wait a minute – I don’t know how they did this.’”

Screaming for ice cream
“I’m so excited about it! When you’re in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles after you go and have ramen, you have to go and have soft serve because it isn’t just soft serve. It’s like green tea, it’s like mango, it’s like coconut – all the things you think go hand in hand with Japanese flavors. That salty richness needs a balance between citrus and something sweet.”

Hungry business partners
“(Qui and I) are very meticulous about what we want and how we want it done. At the same time we both have an open mindset. We’re both easygoing, but at the same time, we want it done properly. … And we both have appetites that are never-ending. It’s almost embarrassing.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Sneak Peek: Vista Ramen on Cherokee

Friday, May 27th, 2016

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Unlike many of us, the crew at Vista Ramen will be hard at work on Memorial Day. Doors open for dinner service at Cherokee Street’s newest restaurant on Monday, May 30. As The Scoop reported in August, executive chef Chris Bork (formerly of Blood & Sand) and The Mudhouse owners Jeremy and Casey Miller announced plans to turn the space at 2609 Cherokee St., into a 36-seat restaurant featuring ramen and Asian-inspired dishes.

The narrow space features a long open kitchen lined with a bar and a row of seats, while small tables line the front windows. The space’s design was heavily influenced by the 1930s, as was its name. The owners named the restaurant Vista after purchasing the large 1930s neon sign that glows at the entrance. Several local artisans had a hand in the restaurant’s design, including gold-leaf lettering by Phil Jarvis, handmade ramen bowls by Karabel and the kitchen bar hewn by woodworker Pete Voss.

Bork created a small menu featuring three ramen bowls: the pork-based Vista, the spicy shrimp and a vegetarian option with miso-roasted carrot and daikon and “coconut schmaltz.” Cherokee neighbor Midwest Pasta Co. makes the springy, thick ramen noodles. His small plates menu features dishes like a house-made Thai sausage, Korean fried chicken and a kimchi pancake.

General manager and beverage director Aaron Stovall helms the bar tucked into the corner of the restaurant. A small, curated selection of alcoholic beverage is meant to complement the food, including seven beers in bottles or cans, a handful of wines and a selection of spirits. Group service for sake and Japanese shochu will be offered. Stoval, who spent four years at The Mudhouse, has also curated a house tea program with help from Retrailer Tea.

Vista Ramen will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect when you step inside Cherokee Street’s newest restaurant.

 

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Hit List: 4 new must-try restaurants in February

Monday, February 1st, 2016

 

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1. Porano Pasta: 634 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.6414, poranopasta.com

After nearly a year of anticipation, James Beard Award-winning chef Gerard Craft opened doors at Porano Pasta, his first fast-casual venture and fifth restaurant. Step up to the counter in the bright, two-story space and mix and match from a plethora of bases like organic farro or house-made semolina pasta, 11 sauces from sugo to pumpkin seed and lime pesto, proteins including tender beef meatballs and slow-roasted pork or vegetables and toppings like crispy garlic and Pecorino Romano cheese. In additional to bowls, pick up an order of custom Companion foccacia bread with rotating toppings or a deep-fried Panzo – dough stuffed with anything from marinara and gooey mozzarella to meatballs and harissa, depending on the day’s special. And be sure to save room for a salted caramel gelato pop or a boozy frozen Negroni for dessert.

 

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2. Nami Ramen: 46 N. Central Ave., Clayton, 314.833.6264, namiramen.com

Ramen has made its way to Clayton with stylish, fast-casual Nami Ramen. Co-owner Jason Jan was a passionate ramen home cook before spending two months researching in Yokohama, Japan. Now Nami offers 10 styles of ramen in a cool, 50-seat space. Grab a seat at the bar overlooking the kitchen and snack on pan-fried gyoza filled with ground pork and vegetables or a tender pork belly steamed bun with house-made sweet soy glaze. Nami’s savory, satisfying signature tonkotsu ramen features tender char sui pork, wood-ear mushrooms and a marinated egg with a creamy yolk. Don’t fear the spice warning on the jigoku ramen either. Miso broth topped with ground pork and corn is amped up with a paste of tomatoes, chiles and shallots. This bowl is more flavorful than fiery, and it makes a tasty introduction to the classic Japanese comfort food.

 

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3. Moya Grill: 567A Melville Ave., University City, 314.833.6621, moyastl.com

The owners of South Grand’s Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant are adding to the fast-casual trend with their new concept, Moya Grill in University City. The small, contemporary space in The Loop offers a variety of wot (stew) and tibs (grilled) dishes with chicken, beef and a good number of vegetarian options. Start with the crispy sambusas – both the lentil and beef versions are worth a try. Meat lovers should order the beef tibs and appreciate the deep heat of the house berbere spice blend. For a veg-friendly option, the mixed vegetable wot features a satisfying, boldly spiced mix of cabbage, potato and carrot. Opt for the traditional, tangy injera instead of rice and enjoy the chance to eat with your hands, tearing off pieces of the spongy flatbread and wrapping each bite of tibs and wot.

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 4. Midtown Sushi & Ramen: 3647 Forest Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.328.2452, midtown-sushi.com 

Sushi rises again in Midtown. After the short-lived Flying Rolls shuttered last year, Midtown Sushi & Ramen took its place, offering everything from sushi rolls to ramen bowls. Start your meal with an appetizer of spicy kare-age, bite-sized pieces of fried chicken doused in a sweet-spicy house sauce and sprinkled with sesame. Share a sushi roll or two, like the well-composed Dragon Roll, featuring crab salad, cucumber and avocado topped with eel, eel sauce and threads of fried sweet potato, a light departure from the usual tempura crumbs. Complete your meal with a bowl of hakata ramen, featuring a custardy egg and smoked pork belly (thanks to neighbor Dixon’s Smokehouse) all swimming in a rich pork broth with all the ramen fixings.

-Porano photo by Greg Rannells, all others by Michelle Volansky 

Sneak Peek: Nami Ramen in Clayton

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

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Clayton, get ready to slurp. Nami Ramen will open doors Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 46 N. Central Ave., in the former home of House of Wong. Jason Jan, who co-owns the restaurant with wife Yen Jan, took his passion for creating authentic ramen at home and launched it into a full-fledged business. He spent two months working in ramen shops in Yokohama, Japan, perfecting techniques and developing recipes before passing that knowledge on to chef Arron Syedullah.

Nami offers 10 styles of ramen from traditional tonkotsu with braised pork belly to more Americanized Breakfast Ramen with a poached egg and thick-cut bacon. Each steaming bowl is filled with a house-made broth that simmers away in 120-quart stockpots for 12 to 15 hours until it reaches the ideal consistency. Customers can also choose from a small list of appetizers like kare-age chicken (bites of Japanese fried chicken), gyoza and soon-to-come steam buns, as well as rice bowls for those seeking a break from noodles.

Customers order at the counter and then grab one of 50 seats at the fast-casual eatery. While they slurp, they can sip bottled or canned local craft beer from Schlafly, 4 Hands or Urban Chestnut, or enjoy a glass of wine. True to ramen’s history in Japan as after-hours fare, Jan hopes to host late-night collaborations with local breweries in the future.

Nami Ramen will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come when doors open at Clayton’s new ramen shop:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

The Scoop: Qui Tran to open ramen shop Nudo in Creve Coeur

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

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Ready your chopsticks because Nudo, the ramen venture by Mai Lee’s Qui Tran and Marie-Anne Velasco is a go. Having signed a lease for space at 11423 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur, which formerly housed an Einstein Bagels, Tran plans to start renovation in February and open the highly anticipated restaurant in late spring or early summer 2016.

“We’ve done a lot of hard work, a lot of research and reached out to the right people,” Tran said. “When you make pho, there’s one basic way to do it. Some regions use fish sauce and some don’t, but there’s a basic way. With ramen, it’s corner to corner.”

As a result, the menu will feature Nudo’s own style of pork tonkotsu-style ramen and spicy miso ramen. Tran and Velasco are also developing a vegetarian version and a “schmaltz ramen” made with chicken. St. Louis’ king of pho will also offer the rich and savory soup at Nudo.

Located near Granite City Food and Brewing and the forthcoming Five Star Burger, the area is ideal for Tran’s 50- to 60-seat, fast-casual venture. “It’s a residential and business area,” Tran said. “It’s an area craving local flare.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

First Look: Midtown Sushi in Midtown

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

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Located in the short-lived Flying Rolls space, Midtown Sushi opened its doors on Monday, Dec. 21 at 3674 Forest Park Ave. Serving more than rolls and nigiri, Midtown Sushi offers Japanese cuisine ranging from traditional appetizers to ramen to curry.

Industry veteran and co-owner Conan Sutton is no stranger to sushi and Japanese cuisine, having spent the last 22 years in local kitchens at Seki’s and as a chef at Wasabi Sushi Bar for two years. Sutton’s mother, Michiko Sutton, is serving as chef and adviser alongside her son.

Diners can get their fix for lunch or dinner in the 49-dining room or opt for carryout or a soon-to-launch delivery service. Midtown Sushi is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Here’s a first look at what to expect when you step inside Midtown’s newest sushi spot:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

 

Just Five: Marinated 7-Minute Eggs

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

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Most chefs in this town love their jobs and are all too happy to share their ideas and recipes. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Lucky Buddha chef René Cruz after a weeknight dinner. I had just slurped up a bowl of Cruz’s ramen, adding a soy sauce-marinated egg that was so delicious, I begged him to share his recipe.

A ramen egg is usually a seven-minute egg – one simmered for exactly seven minutes – resulting in a cooked white and a slightly wiggly, gooey yolk, not runny like a soft-boiled egg. They are then marinated in a potent brew of flavors and ingredients that vary from chef to chef.

Lucky Buddha’s soy-marinated egg has a few more than five ingredients, so I made some tough choices, but I ended up with a delightful treat. These eggs are great as a snack with sake bombs, sliced over a spinach salad or as a savory breakfast with rice and green onions.

 

Marinated 7-Minute Eggs
1 serving
Adapted from a recipe from Lucky Buddha’s René Cruz

2 eggs
1 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped ginger

• In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and sugar. Microwave 30 seconds and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the rice vinegar and ginger, then set aside.
• Prepare an ice water bath. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Carefully place the eggs in the water and boil 7 minutes. Remove the eggs and plunge into the ice water bath. Let rest until cool enough to handle, 3 to 5 minutes.
• Peel the eggs and place them in a zip-top bag with the soy mixture. Refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours. Serve with stir-fried noodles, ramen, on a spinach salad or with rice and green onions.

First Look: Robata in Maplewood

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

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Church’s Chicken flew the coop at 7260 Manchester Road in Maplewood, and Robata swooped in to take its spot. Thom and Emily Chantharasy, former owners of now-shuttered Sekisui on South Grand, opened their ramen, sushi and yakitori restaurant Monday, Sept. 28.

The newly remodeled space features bar-height seating and dining tables to accommodate approximately 30 dinner diners. The sushi menu offers single servings of both cooked and raw nigiri, five- and six-piece sashimi and two-piece tempura styles, as well as 30 fully cooked maki rolls and 28 rolls with raw or partially cooked ingredients.

Steaming bowls of ramen can be built to order, starting with the noodle (fresh imported Japanese thin cut, regular cut, fat cut or a rice noodle), then the style (variations of pork, chicken or vegetable broth with toppings), and finally the option to add more vegetables or protein to your bowl.

The yakitori menu offers 16 chicken, pork and seafood skewers and nine vegetable skewers meant to be mixed, matched and shared around the table (the same goes for the sushi). The meat may be ordered plain (shiro) or marinated in a sweet, savory sauce (tare).

Robata is open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight. Here’s a first look at what’s in store at one of Maplewood’s newest eateries:

 

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 -photos by Meera Nagarajan

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