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Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya Will Be The Latest Entrant to the Chicago Ramen Scene

It’s the chain’s first Midwest location.

Tonkatsu shoyu ramen at Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya   Photo: Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya USA

A new ramen shop is headed to town, and it’s entering the competitive-as-of-late local market with the promise of super-creamy broth, four types of proprietary noodles, and, according to partner Kevin Yu, what Chicago’s ramen scene is lacking: “The most authentic and traditional ramen.”

Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya was founded in Tokyo and landed stateside in 2012. The company now has four Pacific Northwest locations, and late next month plans to take over the space where Max’s Wine Dive belly-flopped (1482 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park), with an 85-seat full-service restaurant.

Yu says he and his partners did a series of demographic studies for a handful of cities, and Chicago won out thanks to its “diverse culture and willingness to accept foreign concepts.” So there’s that. But here’s what you really care about:

The Broth “Our founder in Japan uses the French technique, roasting the bones for hours before making the broth,” says Yu. “This yields the creamiest broth,” he adds. The Wicker Park shop will follow suit, whipping up broth in-house every morning. To accommodate dietary restrictions and such, there will be vegetarian, gluten-free, low sodium, and chicken versions of the traditionally porky base.

The Noodles “Matching noodle to broth is an art in Japan,” says Yu. That’s some serious business, and Kizuki will offer four types of noodles to ensure adequate match-making. Though there will be a “noodle bar” where customers can watch chefs at work, the noodles are outsourced from a California vendor. “Noodle-making is one of the most complicated parts of ramen, and we can provide the most consistent quality by having the biggest U.S. noodle vendor make it for us.” But rest assured these will still be unlike any noodle you’ve slurped: “The vendor makes our noodles specifically for us and cannot sell them to any other company,” Yu promises.

The Booze Expect four types of Japanese spirits, plus sake, sochu, and beer. And, since the area is just a bit of a nightlife destination, a Wicker Park-exclusive line of Japanese-style cocktails is a strong possibility.

And Okay, The Rest: There’s also the second part of the restaurant’s name—“& Izakaya.” To that end, diners can supplement their ramen with roughly 18 small plates, including pork gyoza and Japanese-style chicken wings marinated in-house with citrus and garlic glaze.

Let the battle of the ramens … continue.

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