Episode 9: YUJI Ramen + The Evolution of Ramen

  1. Photo credit: George Padilla.
  2. Photo credit: Shinyokohama Ramen Museum.
  3. Photo credit: Daneila Velasco (from left to right: Dave Potes, head chef YUJI Ramen JPN :: JT Vuong, head chef OKONOMI/YUJI Ramen BK :: George Padilla, general manager OKONOMI/YUJI Ramen BK)

Lynda and Iris interview JT Vuong and George Padilla of YUJI Ramen, a restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a mission to introduce new variations of Japanese ramen to the United States. They trace the milestones that brought ramen from its origins to its current status as a dish with a cult following, and discuss how ramen will continue to evolve in the international culinary scene.

First, Iris defines ramen and its four main elements. She then talks about some of the theories of the origins or ramen, as well as some of the milestones in its history. For a longer, more in-depth timeline, check out Lucky Peach's timeline of ramen development.

Lynda then talks to JT Vuong and George Padilla. JT is the head chef and George is the general manager of YUJI Ramen. First, she asks about the restaurant, their backgrounds, and their relationships with ramen. Then they talk about what are the varieties of ramen Americans are most familiar with, and how the ramen served at YUJI Ramen is different. JT explains what mazemen (no broth ramen) is - one of the first ramen varieties served at the original YUJI pop up.

22:20 "I think they're expecting to hear tonkotsu or some prefecture or region in Japan, and a style of ramen that we're trying to replicate or try to do most authentically. I think it's often a little bit surprising when we let people know that it's really our original style of ramen and it originated in New York. Yuji-san often refers to it as 'New York ramen', and that's because that's really where these ideas and dishes originated--here in Brooklyn." - George on customers' expectations when they ask about the style of ramen YUJI Ramen serves.

The Japan expansion of YUJI Ramen at the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum in Tokyo is also discussed. The Brooklyn brand is strong! Finally, Lynda asks how YUJI Ramen will continue to stand out in an increasingly saturated international ramen scene, and how the dish will continue to evolve.

If you enjoyed this episode, please do consider showing us some love by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. We’re a new show so we do need reviews for other people to find the show. Simply search "Feast Meets West" on the Podcasts section of the iTunes Store, click on Feast Meets West by Heritage Radio Network (not Lynda and Iris), and click "Ratings and Reviews"!