First Lake Houston ramen bar opens near Fall Creek
The idea to open up a ramen and sushi bar came from three friends — Kelvin Wu, Liang Jiang and Lee Tran — who noticed the new restaurants coming to the Lake Houston area but didn’t see a place that sells ramen.
The trio opened IKEI Ramen & Sushi on 9455 N. Sam Houston Pkwy in late September. It is located in the same shopping center with Walmart near Fall Creek.
“We noticed that more businesses are headed toward the Humble area and (the owners) throught ’hey, this is an opportunity to open a new restaurant … they capitalized on there not being a ramen restaurant,” IKEI Manager Alvin Nguyen said.
When customers walk into IKEI the owners want them to feel like they’re in a traditional Japanese home with a modern twist where they can get authentic Japanese meals.
Since their grand opening on Sept. 27, IKEI, which is Japanese for homestyle, has been receiving positive feedback from the community.
“Many customers have been coming in and saying ‘I’ve been waiting for months for this place to open up because I don’t have to drive all the way to downtown to get ramen,’” Nguyen said.
Hearing comments like that just confirms to Nguyen and the owners there is ample demand for a ramen and sushi bar in the area.
Nguyen has been providing information to some residents who have never tasted Japanese ramen.
“You know how Vietnamese have their pho? Their pho to the Vietnamese people is what ramen is to the Japanese people,” Nguyen said.
One also shouldn’t compare authentic ramen to instant ramen, he said. A traditional tonkotsu ramen takes at least 22 hours to make.
“When a lot of people think ramen, they immediately think of instant ramen and they’ve never had true ramen before,” Nguyen said. “How ramen is prepared is the sauce and then the broth, followed by the noodles and all the fixtures that come with ramen.”
IKEI uses a hakata ramen noodle which is a little thinner than your average ramen noodle.
People can choose from six different types of ramen bowls to enjoy. Ramen bowls include tonkotsu, spicy curry miso, garlic black bean, miso, seafood korean, and spicy miso; five of these ramen dishes are pork based.
“A lot pf people come in asking if we have a chicken broth ramen and it’s hard for me to say it but I have to tell them we don’t have any because we want to focus on our specialty first before we make something (else) and receive bad reception from it,” Nguyen said.
The IKEI sushi menu also includes the traditional sashimi, nigiri among other types of sushi.
Nguyen and the owners have been very pleased so far with the feedback they have been receiving from the Lake Houston community and hopes to continue serving their authentic Japanese home style cooking.
“I noticed that a lot of people that come in here are actually trying ramen for the first time,” Ngyuen said. “If you want to know what ramen is come by to our location and see yourself what ramen is.”