Ninja Ramen [Photos: EHOU]
We'll soon be able to add another dedicated ramen shop to the roster of spring openings, since Christopher Huang's upcoming Ninja Ramen is expected to open on Washington Avenue early this May. Huang says that he wants to introduce locals to the place—located where The Dubliner and Lava Rock used to be—with a drinks-only soft opening sometime around April 30.
The 1,400-square-foot interior is nearly complete, outfitted with ninja-inspired artwork, reclaimed wood and benches that run the length of the space. The full bar boasts Japanese beer and liquor—think Hitachino and Yamazaki. Huang and his staff are now putting the finishing touches on the cocktail menu, and the tightly edited food menu is already set (sneak a peek of it below). Huang says that he's chosen to buy his noodles rather than make them in-house, since the fresh-made noodles he's tried haven't been as good as Sun Noodles, which he says are the "same ones they use at the best ramen shops in the country." Late last year, Huang said that "Houston is a good place to do ramen now," since there "there wasn't enough interest" when he thought about it in 2004. Huang is determined to make food that can compete with the national scene, instead of being viewed as a ramen shop that's merely good enough: "'It's good for Houston' ramen, no, I want it to be, It's good ramen for anywhere. Period." He hopes to encourage the ninja theme to extend to his customers by offering discounts to diners donning ninja costumes and to offer hidden discounts with scavenger hunts. Huang assures us, however, that no matter how much fun they hope to have here, the food and drinks are at the forefront. And once open, he expects to keep the food good, the ordering system simple and the drinks complex.