Ken’s Ramen is on top of their noodle game
In a region where Japanese cuisine generally doesn’t stray far from sushi and hibachi, Providence finally has its much anticipated ramen noodle house. Ken’s Ramen has landed in Downtown Providence, merging Japanese traditionalism with the steaze of urban-American street and skate culture.
“As the Creative Director of the Ken’s brand, I designed the interior,” explained Will CMO and head chef of Ken’s. “I get inspiration from Parisian high couture men’s fashion [and] high street-wear labels.” The self-described minimalist created a menu and space on the premise of high-end design — keep it simple; the devil is in the details. A small menu is perfected and stimulated with powerful flavors while an equally small space is given character by its classic and modern hip-hop bumping over the speakers while chefs prepare food traditionally, with chopsticks.
Ken’s storefront is giving Providence a preview with a full-menu soft opening in the first week of March, with a grand-opening TBA.
Motif: Word is Prov has been waiting for your opening for quite some time now. Why the delay?
Will: A combination of things. 1. Our team traveled around the world for couple months (Asia, NYC, LA) to gain inspiration, build character, experience, and to simply try the best ramen shops at an international level. We wanted to make sure everybody is on the same page with the ramen game. 2. Construction: we were contemplating whether the space should be a noodle bar or a closed kitchen. Glad we went with the bar. 3. Sourcing premium imported Japanese ingredients (e.g., high quality bonito flakes and bamboo). Finding these items was a little tough; however, getting distributors to ship to Providence was the hardest.
Who designed the menu? What’s the inspiration?
I designed the menu. We took our favorite ramen shops in each city around the world and incorporated the flavors and techniques together. And of course, we gave everything a Ken’s flair.
What’s the general reaction you get from the items on your menu?
Excitement. For people who haven’t experienced ramen before we want to surprise them.
So the quality of the noodle is everything in the art of ramen. Where do yours come from?
They are custom-tailored noodles made domestically by Sun Noodle Company in New York (based in Hawaii). We visit them on a weekly basis to tweak and perfect our noodles. They are the best. [Sun] supplies 85% of the finest ramen shops in America, like Momofuku in NYC, Totto Ramen in NYC, Tsujita in LA and Daikokuya in LA.
What would you urge customers to try for the full Ken’s experience?
The Tsukemen, or The Dipping Ramen. Dip thick yellow noodles into accompanied super-rich Katsuo, which is a brothy, flavorful sauce.
As authentic Japanese are you are, there seems to be a little American-flair as well. The Ken’s spread sauce on the Yaki-Buta Bun (soy braised pork belly and fresh greens on a steamed Asian bun) almost makes it taste like a Japanese Big Mac.
Since you asked, my response to that is, “IN-N-OUT, baby!”
Ken-san is our mentor and founder.
69 Washington St, Providence