This week Stall Story: Ramen. Need I say more. This story is brought to you by our friends at B-metro. Photo credit goes to Seamus Payne.
Ichicoro Ramen, a craft ramen restaurant, launched in Tampa Bay, Florida, is expanding to Birmingham. Chefs Noel Cruz and Masa Takaku incorporate local ingredients and regional cooking styles into the menu, celebrating the influence of Gulf Coast and Latin American flavors.
Cruz grew up with an interest in food and remembers as a child constantly watching cooking shows and spending time in the kitchen contributing to family gatherings. While most kids were watching typical Saturday morning cartoons, Cruz was checking out the latest Julia Child recipes.
Cruz’s passion led him to New York’s Culinary Institute of America, and upon graduation, he gained experience working in many of Manhattan’s hot spots. After several front-of-house positions, he used his chops and management experience to consult on numerous projects with renowned chefs, eventually opening his own restaurant, Elettaria.
While in New York, Cruz watched the ramen fad explode. After 10 years in the city, he decided to move back to Tampa to start his next venture – Ichicoro Ramen. Cruz chose South Florida as his landing spot for Ichicoro based on the large support group of family and friends he had built throughout the years. He cultivated a team from New York to launch the ramen restaurant, which was the first of its kind in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa.
Chef Cruz has forged numerous relationships over the years, one of which introduced him to The Pizitz Food Hall. He immediately jumped at the opportunity to join another market in which the ramen scene has not yet really taken off. Cruz believes The Pizitz already has a great energy surrounding the project and is eager to join the eclectic mix of food and beverage establishments coming to the property.
Ichicoro Ramen will offer the first dedicated ramen menu in the Birmingham market that will serve ramen bowls consisting of both meat and vegetarian broths, rice bowls with brisket, pork or chicken, and specialty items like salmon. The noodles themselves are a proprietary recipe made for Ichicoro by Sun Noodles in New York. Ichicoro will also have light snacks on the menu including steamed buns with add-ons such as toasted seaweed, bamboo shoots or a poached egg.