Ichimi Ramen opened a little more than a month ago, bringing soul soothing noodles to Coral Gables.
The 2,000-square-foot restaurant, located at 2330 Salzedo St., also serves izakaya dishes, but the steaming bowls of ramen are what diners will likely seek at this 60-seat eatery.
The noodles are made in-house by a machine that can crank out up to 200 portions daily. The noodle-maker, one of only ten in the United States, is located in the back room but in full view so patrons can watch the process. The fresh product is used in three preparations of ramen: traditional noodles in a warm broth, tsukemen (cold noodles served with a side of hot broth for dipping), and cold ramen mixed with proteins and vegetables.
Chef Constantine De Lucia, who worked at Brickell's ramen standard-bearer, Momi Ramen, has interesting takes on dishes, melding Italian and Asian cultures onto the same plate. The chef sees no problem with doing so as long as the food tastes good. "I don't see where the difference is. Noodles are noodles. There's no problem in putting the flavors together."
Unfortunately, the chef's most interesting-sounding item, the tsukemen carbonara ($18,) with creamed egg and diced pork belly, wasn't available on a recent evening. In fact, all of the tsukemen choices were stricken from the menu for that dinner service.
Ramen bowls are large enough for sharing. The seafood bowl is filled with clams, shrimp, microradishes, pea tendrils, and scallions ($22). There's also tonkatsu (pork belly, egg, and bamboo shoots, $18) and beef brisket ($18) ramen.
Vegetarians, however, get the most flavorful ramen choice on the menu. The veggie ramen ($19) has a nutty, hearty mushroom stock and is filled with mushrooms, mung beans, bamboo shoots, and dehydrated pepper.
While you're waiting for your ramen, order a few Izakaya items. These versions of Japanese gastropub offerings include sharables such as crispy pig ears with soy foam ($9), uni tacos (market price), and edamame ($6).
Mantis shrimp ($9) are spiced with fermented chili and garlic confit for a slightly sweet bite without too much heat.
A scallop with rice noodles is presented beautifully in its shell. The scallop ($11) is perfectly seared.
The most delicious bite of the night came from the fried oyster buns (three for $10). Served with yuzu pepper aioli, they were reminiscent of a brighter version of a fried oyster po'boy.
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Ichimi Ramen is open for lunch weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner is served Monday and Tuesday from 6 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 6 to 11:30 p.m. A location in the South of Fifth neighborhood of Miami Beach is scheduled to open in April.