Takatoshi Nagara is bringing the tastes of Japan to America at Mr. Taka Ramen.
Together with his partner Takayuki Watanabe (they both go by Taka, hence the restaurant's name), he is offering a seasonally-changing menu of different styles of ramen at their Lower East Side restaurant in New York.
Whether it's miso, tonkotsu, or shoyu ramen, Mr. Taka is working to offer a well-rounded menu of ramen, giving the customer options to explore a range of styles.
"Ramen is a very traditional type of dish. But a new type of ramen we can make," says Nagara. "So it's very creative."
And today, Nagara says that there isn't much of a difference between eating ramen in New York compared to Tokyo.
"Now it's all the same. Fifteen years ago was so different. In New York there were no ramen restaurants. Just a few," says Nagara. "But now there are so many ramen restaurants here. American people eat ramen a lot, so now it's always changing. I have to make new ramen so many times. So, it's hard."
The availability of high-quality ramen in the city is what drives Nagara to be constantly changing his menu. He travels back and forth between New York and Tokyo (where he owns a Michelin-rated ramen shop, Bigiya) multiple times a year to make new seasonal menus. For instance, they just unveiled their winter menu for 2017, which includes mapo tofu mazemen (a soupless ramen), spicy stamina ramen, and shitake mushroom soyu ramen.
Nagara says the travel takes it's toll on him. "It takes 30 hours, so it's hard," says Nagara. "But it's fun. It's fun."
Matzah ball ramen at Shalom Japan
This might be the best ramen you've had in America. But you're supposed to eat it alone.
Thailand's dancing shrimp (goong ten), served still alive in a bowl of spices