We’ve all been to his restaurants before, be it the decades-long success story that is Japanese Village or his quick-serve rice bowl spot Banzai, but he’s always been more of a behind the scenes guy. For Tatsuo Asai, that is about to change as he prepares to open a new project that’s very close to his heart – Tokiwa Ramen.
Having sold Japanese village in the 2000’s, Asai quickly got bored with retirement and opened Banzai. A couple years ago he sold to some of the managers and rode off into the sunset yet again. Since it’s apparently possible to become bored with endless leisure travel and golf (I would love to test that theory one day myself), Asai “got itchy feet again.” He needed something to do and he decided that this time it was going to be less about making money and more about his passion: Ramen.
To that end, Asai is hard at work overseeing work on his new project, the 40 seat Tokiwa Ramen, but this time is going to be different. Historically, Asai has had people cook and manage for him. For Tokiwa though, Asai says he will be the chef, cooking broth countless hours per day and training staff in the craft. Though not a trained chef, he says he’s an avid cook and has been making homemade ramen for years. Spending plenty of time at his second home in Japan, Asai has eaten more than his fair share of ramen and decided that since there wasn’t a restaurant currently making a bowl the way he likes it, he would just open his own spot.
The ramen at Tokiwa will focus on one pork broth and one chicken. The noodles will be made here in Edmonton by a local noodle maker with a treasured recipe that Asai brought from Japan and are exclusive to Tokiwa. With the noodles locked-in, Asai turns his attention to perfecting his broths. “I want to make dishes that don’t use additives like MSG, so that’s a big challenge. The broths don’t have as much punch and umami, so we have the challenge to make it taste great”. To ensure he doesn’t get overloaded, Asai plans to start out with only making 60-70 bowls/day and will close his doors when the last bowl is sold, so plan to show up early.
The businessman turned soup-maker hopes to have the new spot open by the end of March.
Tokiwa Ramen- 11978 104 avenue
Website – Tokiwaramen.ca
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