Ikemen Ramen: Now Open + Bringing Hollywood Cool to Japanese Noodles
|Takashi Adachi cooking a bowl of ramen at Hollywood's new Ikemen Ramen.|
Adachi came to Ikemen after having worked with Nakamura as his katsuobushi producer. Nakamura is famously picky about his ingredients, once trying 24 types of tomatoes before finally accepting the 25th for the tomato ramen at Ramen California. Adachi brought with him the katsuobushi from his father's company in Japan, created through a complicated process developed to preserve fish back in the Edo period of Imperial Japan. Mackerel, bonito and anchovies are cleaned, boiled, smoked, fermented and dried. Adachi shaves his katsuobushi into thin flakes with a specialized katusobushi machine before each order. The transparent whisps of fish become a kind of umami-bomb for soup.
Though his business card reads "General Manager," Adachi is really head chef. Nakamura, who trained him, has now flown to New York to open Ramen Lab, a culinary school for ramen professionals. The worry has been that Adachi will struggle with the speed of a full restaurant, so they kept PR to a minimum. Hidden in a strip mall at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, the only mention of Ikemen anywhere in the media has been by local ramen blogger Rameniac, a longtime supporter of Nakamura since his Ramen California days.
Adachi has managed to handle the workload thus far and is even in the process of training other cooks to work with him now that Nakamura is gone. But some worry remains. "Bonito is great, but he needs to be quicker," Nakamura said of Adachi.
It was Kawabata who sponsored Adachi for a working visa, a rare chance for him to come back to America as he has wanted. Kawabata hadn't actually met him, but Nakamura's recommendation was all he needed. "That's the Japanese trust," Kawabata said. "We're samurai. The Last Samurai."
Ikemen: 1655 N La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles; (323) 800-7669. www.ikemenhollywood.com.