59 W. Hubbard St.
ETA: Mid- to late April
"I spent a lot of cold nights in New York as a young cook eating bowls of ramen. That's where I got hooked," said Lettuce Entertain You chef/partner Doug Psaltis, who will helm the forthcoming ramen spot from R.J., Molly and Jerrod Melman (Hub 51, Paris Club, Bub City, RPM Italian). Psaltis will work with another Lettuce executive chef, Marcelo Han, to hook a new generation of Chicagoans with gourmet versions of ramen that include smoked brisket in black garlic broth, and a kimchi- and fried chicken-studded bowl. Psaltis said the space will be "eye-catching, a place to get a bowl of ramen for dinner or to party late at night."
High Five Ramen
112 N. Green St.
As a chef with Brendan Sodikoff's Hogsalt Hospitality (Gilt Bar, Maude's, Au Cheval, Bavette's) Jeff Pikus has directed the food at some of Chicago's best new restaurants of the past few years. While he could sit back and enjoy the accolades, he's dedicated himself to this new concept and said he considers High Five Ramen his most personal venture yet. Pikus and Sodikoff, who recently traveled to Japan to sample ramen, plan to translate their experiences abroad to the menu at High Five. "I feel we all found a cultural beauty in Japan built around executing simple tasks to perfection, an enjoyment of repetition and appreciation for seemingly mundane tasks," Sodikoff said. "I view our ramen bar as an opportunity to participate in this philosophy. It's very direct and free from any excess." Pikus said his goal is to create a new way of thinking about an old food. "It's soup and noodles," he said."Everyone has a reference point for that. If we are able to create a new reference point, then I think we have succeeded."
819 W. Fulton Market
"Last week we made 1,600 bowls of ramen [at Wasabi in Logan Square]. We have a small kitchen. It takes a long time to make it and we're running out of room," said owner Satoko Takeyama. In search of more space, Takeyama is transforming a storefront near Publican Quality Meats into a ramen bar. Instead of the pork-based tonkotsu ramen served at Wasabi, Takeyama's chefs will be slinging chicken paitan ramen featuring a lighter, clearer broth made from the bones of free-range chickens.
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