Aug. 29, 2016 Hannah Wulkan
Foodies who put the now-famous Ramen Burger on the map a few years ago will now be able to experience the Smorgasburg phenomenon year-round, along with more traditional ramen dishes, at the new Ramen Shack opening in LIC in September.
The Ramen Shack will be based out of owner Keizo Shimamoto’s central kitchen in Long Island City at 13-13 40th Avenue. He has already been using the kitchen for his wholesale business, where he has also prepared food for Smorgasburg. Shimamoto decided to expand to a full restaurant as his next step on his ramen journey.
“I’m sort of coming full circle of what I want to do, which is introduce traditional Japanese ramen to America,” Shimamoto said, while acknowledging the irony that his Ramen Burger idea is what allowed him to reach this point.
Though he is planning another trip to Japan in the coming weeks, Shimamoto plans to open the Ramen Shack as soon as he returns, aiming to begin serving his famous ramen burger, as well as his other original ramen creations, the week of September 26.
Shimamoto took an unusual path to find success in the restaurant business. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he quit his job as a computer programmer in 2009 and headed to Japan to study ramen. He worked at three different ramen shops in Japan over four years before bringing his new ramen knowledge back to America.
Shimamoto opened up a traditional Japanese “yatai,” or food stand, selling Ramen at the Smorgasburg Queens, though he quickly became most famous for his signature Ramen Burger, or a hamburger with ramen on either side of the patty instead of a bun.
Working out of a real kitchen rather than a food stand will allow Shimamoto to be more creative and flexible with his creations. His restaurant will seat about 10 people.
I’m not sure what people would want to expect, but this has kind of been where I can be the most creative because it is my kitchen, so they can look forward to special creations, and if something comes to me that day I can just make it, so people can try something new every time they come in,” he said.