“We named it Ramen The Place [because] we wanted it to be not only a ramen place but a place for everyone; whether they love ramen or not,” said Simon Li, the restaurant’s manager.
After more than a year in business, Ramen The Place has finally found its groove.
“Before this, we used to have a changing menu…because we love ramen and we want people to try different ramen,” said Li. “Ramen is not limited to tonkatsu ramen. Tonkatsu ramen is so popular in the Bay Area, people know it very well, but some people don’t know that there are some other ramen popular in Japan. That’s what we wanted to do.”
The chef at Ramen The Place went to Japan and learned how to make ramen there. He perfected his skills at Santouka, a popular ramen restaurant inside of the Japanese grocery store Mitsuwa in San Jose.
His training helped him create the duck-based, tonkatsu, and niboshi broths featured at Ramen The Place.
“Niboshi Ramen is a very classic ramen in Japan and you probably couldn’t find it in the Bay Area,” said Li. “This one is very special and our Japanese customers love this one very much… I’ve had a few Japanese customers [tell my server], ‘this ramen reminds me of Tokyo; reminds me of the ramen in Japan.’”
Li and the rest of the team at Ramen The Place plan to continue to bring new ramen to the restaurant. A seasonal ramen will be added to the menu soon and rotate every three months or so.
Over the past year, Ramen The Place has not only perfected its menu but also its décor. A large wooden lattice now occupies the majority of one wall. It is adorned with dozens of notes from guests. Li calls it Fragments of Life.
“I want to have something where people can write down things about themselves or about us so we collect them and have it on the wall,” said Li. “We wanted to have a stronger connection with the community. That’s why we have the emas on the wall.”
“Some of [the notes] were saying how they like their ramen,” said Li. “One that is very impressive to me is that a customer wrote, ‘I wish to pass the exam.’ And she actually did and she came back to tell us, ‘Oh, I wrote this and then it happened.’ I think these are giving at least some positivity to the customers or give them confidence or that it’s a way to help them relieve some of the stress they get from their daily activities.”
Ramen The Place is located at 5229 Stevens Creek Blvd. in Santa Clara. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner.