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."
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.
Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Phoenix® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.