Ramen is back on the menu at Midtown's Machiya Ramen Noodle House. For now, anyway.
According to general manager Juan Angulo, the original ramen recipe was devised by "one of the top Japanese chefs in the world." And, for reasons that could not be explained, Angulo would not provide Short Order with the name of the chef. (The restaurant, apparently, signed a confidentiality agreement prior to signing him or her on to create the original recipe.)
But not even an anonymous, big-name chef could reel in the diners. Angulo says that 50 percent of customers would love the ramen. The remaining 50 percent would return uneaten bowls to the kitchen.
"Some people said it was great; some people said it wasn't. We were still fairly new, still trying it out, and we gave it two or three weeks. But then we knew it wasn't good. So we took it out to make sure it was the right taste to the American palate, while still keeping it traditional," says Angulo.
"Miami has such a diverse population, and we had so many batches being returned. It meant something was wrong. It had to be adjusted to everybody's taste."
Machiya's bowls used to be prepared in the style of Hakata ramen, which includes a rich, mirky broth made with pork bones and thin, non-curly noodles. At Machiya, the original broth took over nine hours to make. Now, the restaurant has switched to Tokyo-style ramen. And there's also one more not-so-minor change. The noodles are no longer made on premises.
"Our noodles are now imported from Japan because the wheat flour is better than America," he explains. Angulo claims that the water and flour sold in the United States are not a good match for making noodles.
The restaurant also hired a new chef named Taketora Mitsuko, who previously worked at Katsuya at the SLS Hotel. He has been at Machiya for the past three weeks perfecting his ramen recipe.
There are currently four styles of ramen available at the restaurant: hakata classic ramen ($12; tonkotsu noodle soup with pork loin chashu), hokkaido ramen ($15; tonkotsu noodle soup with scallops, king crab, shrimp, calamari), soy tonkotsu ($12; soy sauce and vegetable-based soup with pork loin chashu), and hiyashi ramen ($12; cold ramen noodles served with dressing topped with pork loin chashu).
Although we haven't sampled the new recipe, we do know that Machiya must be feeling the pressure coming from Brickell's Momi Ramen -- the ramen shop that opened up about a month ago and has already has garnered quite the following.
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Indeed, Angulo admits: "The ramen business is a tough business."
We'll head over to Machiya soon and try out this new take on ramen. We'll keep you posted.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.