Gables Japanese Spot Ichimi Improves Daily
The chestnut broth in Ichimi's baby-back rib ramen is the distillation of a life's worth of delicious steaks in a bowl. This is no slick, salty miso concoction or a tacky, fatty tonkotsu. It's something different. This is a beef-neck-based broth that fills your senses
For this, you can thank the 3-month-old Coral Gables restaurant's chef, Cosme Sanchez. He took over only a few weeks ago, brought on by the eatery's 22-year-old owner, Peihao Xu, and turned around a place that was in disarray. During a visit this past March, a number of ramen, including
The menu for this iron-and-raw-wood-covered space that formerly housed Alberto Cabrera's Bread + Butter has been tightened and refined. The noodles are thicker and sturdier, and they arrive with a springy texture. The rich
What's better is that Ichimi, Japanese for "dedicated to," adds a new dimension to Miami's complement of the iconic Japanese soup. For years, satisfying versions of it have been available across the city at Bal Harbour's Makoto, North Miami Beach's Yakko-San, and Coral Gables' Su-Shin Izakaya. In 2012, restaurateur Jeffrey Z. Chen opened Brickell's Momi Ramen. It was the city's first eatery dedicated solely to the soup.
Ramen obsessives began nurturing the hope that Momi would usher in a wave of similarly styled spots. Soon they'd be able to dine on everything from miso ramen, which hails from the city of Sapporo in Japan's far north, to the chicken-vegetable-seafood ramen called Kagoshima from the south.
Though things didn't pan out that way, Ichimi is a flash of hope for those dismayed by the way burgers and doughnuts have overtaken noodles.
What's more, the menu isn't limited to hot soups. A knot of those noodles also comes chilled, gently washed in soy sauce, and twisted up with a hefty portion of sea urchin and
While Sanchez has refined the ramen section, he has also severely curtailed the restaurant's izakaya offerings. The so-called uni taco that the restaurant opened with and has become signature has been preserved. It's a two-biter seemingly made for Instagram: an emerald of a nasturtium leaf is tempura-battered and fried into a gossamer shell. On it goes a magenta smear of chopped, raw Wagyu beef, followed by two lobes of pumpkin-orange sea urchin roe. A bright, intensely minty shiso foam lashes together all of the rich accoutrements. Though other choices seem less ambitious (crabcakes, for example), it's for the better.
The most desirable plates can be found in a "Daily Specials" section on a chalkboard that hangs on a subway-tile wall near the open kitchen. Recently, beef neck gyoza was there, and the tender, burnished wrappers burst with the ultra-rich filling.
Sanchez also seems to have a penchant for repurposing his broths' ingredients. He cleverly turns the refuse of
Sanchez's way of making a dish from the same head that fortified his broth is what makes Ichimi great. Ramen is a trend food, ready-made for obsessives and their social media. But ramen is also the product of obsessives. Only an obsessive would think to make a broth by boiling bones for 24 hours. Only a borderline-neurotic would spend countless hours tinkering with the alkaline salts and sodium bicarbonates that give the best ramen noodles their trademark bounciness. But that's what makes you crave some bowls of ramen and forget others in less time than it takes to eat them.
2330 Salzedo St., Coral Gables; 305-960-7016. Daily noon to midnight
Hog's head $9
Beef neck gyoza $12
Uni taco $14
Baby-back rib ramen $26
Uni and roe ramen $36
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