The nationwide ramen wave is about to wash over Santa Fe now that the Japanese noodle soup has grabbed hold in every state.
Mampuku Ramen has a sign up at the former Pizza 9 location at 1965 Cerrillos Road near St. Michael’s Drive. The opening is expected in about a month, said manager Ayame Fukuda, the daughter of Shohko and Hiro Fukuda, who owned the recently closed Shohko Café in Santa Fe after 42 years.
Mampuku is the first ramen-focused restaurant in Santa Fe since the 2010-2013 run of chef Eric Stapelman’s Shibumi Ramenya, once again allowing Santa Fe to join many other American cities that have gotten their first ramen bars in the 2010s.
The Fukuda family already has Naruto Ramen in Albuquerque, which opened in December 2015 near the University of New Mexico, just a year after Albuquerque’s first ramen shop opened at O Ramen & Curry House.
Ayame Fukuda said they went for Albuquerque first because of the student crowd. The family has been looking for a Santa Fe location for nearly two years, checking out eight to 10 locations before landing on Cerrillos at St. Michael’s.
“The price was right, the location was right, the parking was right,” she said. “We were looking for a very specific square footage.”
Fukuda obtained a building permit in April.
Since 1971, ramen in the U.S. meant bricks of instant noodles and flavor packets or foam cups of noodles. That’s a far cry from the pork broth tonkatsu ramen that cooks for 20 hours, or fermented bean paste miso ramen that are now chased after by U.S. diners from coast to coast.
Mampuku will serve tonkatsu and miso ramen in the “authentic hakata style” with thin egg noodles or eggless noodles. The miso soup will come with tonkatsu, chicken or vegan broth, Fukuda said.
Along with ramen, Mampuku will also offer “Japanese comfort food” dishes such as gyoza dumplings, fried rice and chicken wings.
The U.S. ramen bar craze is credited to David Chang, who opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City in 2004. Not until the 2010s did ramen restaurants suddenly emerge in just about all bigger and medium sized U.S. cities.
The Chicago Tribune called 2015 “Chicago’s Year of Ramen” as numerous ramen shops had opened in the previous few years. The first Denver ramen shop, Bones, opened in 2008 with Dallas joining the ramen frenzy in 2013 with Tanoshii Ramen.
By 2017, Austin, Texas, hosted the first Ramen Expo USA, with the third expo set for Chicago in October. The reviews.org website has The Top-Rated Ramen in Your State, indicating ramen shops now in all 50 states.
The Mampuku location most recently was Pizza 9 and before that for many years Szechuan Chinese and Little House China.