When Satoko Takeyama and Jee Kim were working to open Wasabi in Logan Square in 2010, Takeyama told us the restaurant would focus on big, Japanese-American maki. But she also enthused about the restaurant’s ramen, and when we asked what would make Wasabi special, she said, “I think this ramen noodle. Not many places in Chicago have really good ramen noodles.” A while after opening, Wasabi shifted its center of gravity to ramen, positioning itself perfectly for the ramen invasion of the past year.
Now, with Wasabi burning hot, Takeyama and Kim plan to ride the ramen tsunami to a second location: Ramen Takeya (819 W. Fulton Market, 312-666-7710). Wasabi specializes in the rich, pork-based tonkotsu ramen, at the top of a menu that still includes many sushi options and small plates. On a shorter menu, Ramen Takeya will showcase chicken paitan ramen, with a lighter broth but still available with the roasted pork char siu and a marinated, soft-boiled egg. Chickens will be sourced from Jidori Chicken, a cage-free poultry operation, and noodles come from a noodle maker in California.
Takeyama estimates a price of $11 or $12 a bowl. The 46-seat restaurant, with an eight-seat ramen bar, is scheduled to grand-open March 31. March, circa 2015: in like tonkotsu ramen, out like chicken paitan ramen.