By SAMANTHA COHEN
Miami’s lack of Japanese ramen cuisine is now over with the opening of Ichimi Ramen Coral Gables. This popular Asian noodle dish is the star of the new restaurant. With a variety of traditional options to choose from, Ichimi serves us an authentic delicious meal with a low key-relaxing atmosphere.
Ichimi Ramen restaurant opened Jan. 29 and is located at 2330 Salzedo St., in Coral Gables. The restaurant seats 60 people. Ichimi’s executive chef is Constantine De Lucia, formerly of Momi Rami and Lure Fishbar. The ramen is homemade with a noodle-making machine that is one out of only 10 in the United States, which was imported from Japan. Ichimi, which means “dedicated to” in Japanese, features a modernized take on traditional Gyoza, izakaya and ramen dishes.
The menu features modern spins on the traditional dish like variations with veggies, seafood and meat. There are also some adventurous items, such as crispy pig ears, bone marrow and scallion pancakes. Ichimi showcases ramen in three preparations to choose from traditional ramen with noodles in a warm broth, tsukemen, which are noodles served with a side of hot broth for dipping, and cold ramen noodles mixed with protein and vegetables.
Chef Constantine De Lucia, an Italian born chef, put his Italian roots into his creations offering an Italian inspired Carbonara styled Tsukmen. Which is filled with a creamed egg, diced pork belly, shallots, garlic confit, scallions and micro broccoli. The menu also offers Izakaya (small dishes) to share.
As my friend Emily and I walked up to the restaurant, we did not see a sign to distinguish it from the rest of the buildings next to it, so we had a little trouble finding the restaurant. As we walked in, we saw that there are two long booth tables along both sides of the wall with one long table in the center. There were multiple hanging lights coming down from the ceiling, which dimmed, lower and darker throughout the meal. Soothing jazz-rock music played in the background. We were told to take a seat wherever we would like. There were only three other tables occupied, which left us with a lot of options.
The décor of the restaurant was not bad, but not overwhelmingly exciting. With dark brown painted walls, as well as white tiled walls it created an industrial styled space. One wall had a huge Japanese mural, painted on it depicting a Japanese noodle making scene. The other walls were adorned with big chalkboards that offered beer, sake and food menus.
A waitress instantly came to our table to greet us with menus. Looking through the menu, I was confused as to what certain things were, but was happy to get assistance from the waitress. She explained the menu items and suggested numerous items she preferred. The prices ranged from $9-$18 for appetizers and main dish ramens were about $20. But the waitress came up to us multiple times asking us if we were ready to order, which made us feel a little rushed.
We ordered the Kraken soft shell crab buns ($14) to share as an appetizer and as our main dishes I got the veggie hot ramen ($19) and Emily got the Tonkotsu ramen ($18). We were told at the beginning of the meal that they did not have tsukemen “dipping noodles” that night.
After we ordered, we were greeted by Chef De Lucia, who told us that the buns were going to take 5-6 minutes longer because he had changed the water for cooking.
The Ramen came out 15 minutes after we ordered with our buns nowhere in sight. We were excited to see the beautiful presentation and huge bowl portions. We got full very fast and had yet to receive the bun appetizer. 15 minutes into eating our main dishes, the soft shell crab bun appetizer came out. It was definitely worth the wait and a highlight of the meal. The buns were airy, doughy with an amazing garlicky sauce on top with crunchy soft shell crab. I would definitely order it again.
The noodles in the ramen were delicious and chewy and the broth was flavorful and delicious with a vegetable aroma. At the end of the meal, we asked the waitress for a dessert menu but unfortunately they do not offer one.
The menu showed that it was a true Japanese Ramen restaurant. What makes Ichimi unique is that there aren’t any other Japanese/ Chinese restaurants that offer a variety of ramen in the Miami area.
In the back of the restaurant I was surprised to see a separate room, which I was told is a beer and sake lounge, with a view of the restaurant’s noodle-making machine. The Lounge is not opened yet due to unfinished construction. It will definitely be a cool area to hang out with friends. Emily and I both agreed it would be good for group celebratory dinners.
Although the waitress continued to check on us throughout the night, we had to wait awhile to get her attention to bring the check over. Our bill was $55, which we split.
This new unique ramen spot is the perfect place to grab a casual quick bowl of delicious noodles in broth. Filled with both traditional and modern Japanese traditions and tastes, it is an exciting addition to the Coral Gables area.
A second Ichimi location in the works to open in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood in the spring.
- Ichimi Ramen
- 2330 Salzedo St., Coral Gables, Fla. 33134
- Japanese cuisine
- Price: $6-$22
- Open Mondays to Sundays, open for lunch weekly from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Dinner is served Mondays and Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to midnight, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sundays from 6 to 11:30 p.m.
- Cash and credit card accepted
- No reservations
- Rating: four out of five stars — great food; decent décor; good service