To those lamenting the lack of decent ramen in the Valley, take note: Yatai Ramen.
The Valley's newest food truck, its name meaning a Japanese street food cart, is getting ready to hit the streets in the next few weeks. And owner Mark Kondo says it's about time.
"I love ramen, I'm fascinated by ramen," says the Osaka-born Kondo, who came to the Valley in 1988. "But there aren't many places here that do it well. Phoenix is ready for good ramen."
Kondo, who has worked at Benihana Restaurant as well as several sushi shops, says ramen recipes in Japan are notoriously kept secret. By talking with friends in Japan, Los Angeles, and New York City who own and work at ramen shops, he's come up with his own creations.
"The most important part of ramen is the broth," Kondo says. "I cook my tonkotsu [pork bone broth] ramen for over 20 hours and with around a dozen ingredients. And its chashu [marinated braised pork belly] is cooked for three hours."
Along with the classic tonkotsu, Kondo will offer a premium miso ramen. He says the noodles will come from Sun Noodle in California (Sun also makes noodles for Umami in Tempe). Toppings will include ingredients like egg, bean sprouts, and nori (seaweed). Each bowl will come with a side of fried rice.
In addition to the ramen, Kondo's Yatai food truck will serve gyoza, the Japanese street food snack, and pork katsu curry, which Kondo says, like ramen, is a favorite comfort food in Japan.
"I believe in affordable, everyday prices," Kondo says of his offerings. "I would never charge $12 or $15 for ramen. My prices are around $7 to $9."
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Yatai Ramen is one of more than 50 food trucks scheduled to appear at the New Times- sponsored event Street Eats Food Truck Festival on Saturday and Sunday, January 25 and 26, at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. But Kondo says he's currently trying to get a few more gigs for Yatai Ramen before the event.
For more information, check out the Yatai Ramen Facebook page.
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