Although last night was intended as a mere soft opening for Chinatown's Tiger Den, there was a long line of locals even thirty minutes before the scheduled opening time. Owners Martina Yang and Mike Tran — who also own Aka Sushi House — had to count the number of guests that could go in at a time, so when we left the restaurant there was still a crowd of people waiting to get in. Crowd capacity here is strictly enforced, Yang says that recent code changes were a result of the hotel fire on Southwest Freeway, and they've had to adjust to the specific regulations of this neighborhood.
As far as what differentiates this restaurant from other local shops that offer bowls of the popular Japanese noodle dish, Yang says it's the house-made noodles and from-scratch broth. She says that before opening Tiger Den she and Tran traveled extensively and visited many local ramen establishments, and that she's proud of the product they offer here. It was the right place at the right time. The ramen movement has already taken over central Houston, and Chinatown will likely offer a more diverse audience. Although we should point out, Tiger Den is not a dedicated ramen shop. They have a robata grill, rice bowls and are excited to bring an izakaya setting to this part of town. Although last night they were only offering ramen and robata items, and they're still awaiting their liquor license. Yang tells Eater that the restaurant will resume business today (October 22) at 5 p.m. instead of the expected 11 a.m. opening. The packed house left them in need of some restocking, rest and repose. Especially since they close at 2 a.m.
· Tiger Den [Instagram]
· All Other Opening Reports [-EHOU-]