Modesto getting its initially craft ramen restaurant from longtime valley sushi chef

If you imagine ramen noodles just occur wrapped in plastic and are ready to consume in three minutes, perfectly, you really have not attempted ramen have you?

The ubiquitous immediate noodles, when a delicious and a budget-friendly staple in lots of pantries, has nothing on the real factor. And soon, Modesto will know the variation as the first focused craft ramen store is established to open in the McHenry Village later on this thirty day period.

The new cafe, Konfucious Eats, will come from Central Valley indigenous and longtime Modesto sushi chef Ernie Watkins. An avid foodstuff blogger and culinary explorer, Watkins fell in adore with the Japanese noodle-primarily based soup and became obsessed with producing his have. Two outings to Japan, a sequence of marketed-out ramen pop-up occasions and a single ongoing pandemic later on, his dream of acquiring his very own ramen shop is coming correct.

Watkins is using over the previous space of buddy and fellow Modesto chef Tye Bauer’s namesake cafe Bauer’s 66½ Skillet & Grill. Bauer shut his McHenry Village spot at the begin of August, merging his menu into his new downtown gastropub as a substitute.

His street to opening his possess restaurant was formed by his have adventurous palate and the COVID-19 outbreak, which has brought about mass disruption in the cafe field.

The Modesto indigenous commenced his culinary vocation virtually 14 decades ago at Miki’s Sushi on McHenry Avenue, performing his way up from sushi helper to manager about about seven many years. Then, seeking to extend his cooking horizons, he left to function at Parkwest Casino 580 in Livermore, in which he acquired practical experience with steaks, burgers, Chinese meals and far more.

Soon after two years there, he returned to Modesto, got married and grew to become head sushi chef at Umi Sushi on Sylvan Avenue. After starting there in 2016, he commenced composing his foodstuff site, also named Konfucious Eats. And he was nevertheless doing work there when the coronavirus began having around day by day life. As dining places noticed their business enterprise slow and had to shutter their dining rooms, his hrs were being lower.

Ramen pop-up gatherings in Modesto offered out

With his cost-free time, he started experimenting additional with his ramen. At the start out of March, he held his initial ramen pop-up function at the Direct Equipment test kitchen. It was a hit and a further was planned in late March, but by then the continue to be-at-residence order had been issued and ideas had been scuttled.

Alternatively, he began promoting acquire-dwelling ramen kits, to start with with Direct Equipment and then with his buddy at Bauer’s Downtown as properly as Camp 4 Wine Cafe. They started modest with a max of 40 orders, which then doubled to 80 and soon he was selling out 100 at a time in 1 working day.

As his ramen was using off, the pandemic threw Watkins an additional curveball as he was allow go from his task at Umi. Now with time on his hands, Watkins began severely imagining about opening his individual ramen shop. And when Bauer shut his McHenry Village cafe this summer months, he questioned his mate if he’d like to acquire in excess of the space.

What sets his ramen apart from the crispy fried noodles you get in the pack is almost everything. He helps make his have broth, numerous variants in truth, simmered around a 12-hour interval. He also tends to make his individual egg noodles by hand, so they have the best bouncy regularity. And then he tops it with all the goodies, from marinated comfortable-boiled eggs to pork tummy and more.

The cafe will have numerous variations of ramen on its menu, from the distinct broth shoyu ramen to creamy broth tori paitan ramen and miso ramen. He options to involve much more kinds and rotate his offerings, and make his ramen seasonal as very well as give specials regularly. He even has a vegan ramen in the functions.

Hope much more than just ramen in the menu

But ramen won’t be the only thing on the menu. Anticipate Japanese-type sandos (slang for sandwiches) produced with distinctive Japanese milk bread. He’ll make classic egg salad, pork katsu and a fruit-and-product sandos all served on the pillowy bread. Getting tried the egg salad sando, created with Japanese mayo, I can see soup-and-sando combos becoming a well-known draw at the cafe.

You’ll also uncover bento bowls (a perform on bento packing containers designed with rice bowls as an alternative) and some Korean dishes in a nod to his mom, whose kimchi recipe he was authorized to use for the restaurant.

But, in the close, he just hopes his food items will make people today pleased. Like the joyful smiling ramen bowl that is his symbol, Watkins hopes his hand-crafted creations will assist people forget about about the planet outside the house of the heat ramen bowls steaming in front of them.

“I experience like I put my soul into ramen. It is soul food items,” Watkins explained. “I want to transport people today into a unique entire world. Foodstuff isn’t just about the style. It is about all the senses. How it seems to be, how it smells. It’s about balance.”

Watkins has introduced a Kickstarter marketing campaign to raise recognition and cash for the cafe. It attained 50% of its $10,000 target in the first 48 several hours and is now nearly 90 % funded. Supporters can receive benefits like T-shirts, custom ramen bowls and meal passes for donating.

Konfucious Eats is established to open at 1700 McHenry Ave. Suite 66½ in mid-to-late November. For a lot more information and facts visit


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Jacqueline M. Faulkner

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