LUCKYINSIDER: Chef Ken Tominaga
Chef and partner of The Ramen Bar, a fast-casual West Coast style ramen spot located in the heart of San Francisco, Chef Ken Tominaga has always had a passion for Japanese cuisine. Having built his career on his love for good food and cooking, Chef Ken prides himself on the use of quality ingredients to create a simple menu with the perfect balance of sweet, salty, sour, and umami. We're excited for him participate in our annual LUCKYRICE San Francisco Feast on June 24 and, in this episode of LUCKYINSIDER, we speak with a chef who is bringing his take on an authentic Japanese dining experience to The Golden Gate City:
LUCKYRICE: From dishwasher to prep cook, you have experienced every step of the culinary world - how has this affected your perspective on the restaurant industry and how you run your restaurants?
Ken Tominaga: Although some may consider busboys and dishwashers as simply supporting staff members, they indeed hold the most important positions within the restaurant business. In my opinion, dishwashing is the hardest, yet most important job in a restaurant. Without cooking utensils or clean dinnerware, a restaurant is unable to operate properly; therefore, it is important to treat every single one of your employees with respect.
LUCKYRICE: What made you decide to focus on ramen?
Ken: At the time, the ramen scene in the Bay Area was heading towards a weird direction. My goal for The Ramen Bar is for people to experience firsthand the simple and refreshing flavor profiles of true ramen.
LUCKYRICE: Which component do you think is more important for mastering the art of ramen - the noodles or the broth?
Ken: In my opinion, the broth is much more difficult to master, especially in finding a nice consistency and balance of flavors. At the end of the day, however, it is the combination of noodles and broth that defines a delicious bowl of ramen. If either is off, the balance of the entire dish is off. If I had to quantify the importance of each element, I would have to say a great bowl of ramen consists of 50% broth, 30% noodles, and 20% toppings.
LUCKYRICE: Why do you think ramen, in particular, has exploded in popularity in the U.S.?
Ken: People all over the world love pasta and noodles as a whole. It was only a matter of time before ramen had its time to shine in the United States. In cities like Los Angeles and New York City, people are constantly looking for the next "big" food phenomenon so, naturally, the ramen craze made its way to the Bay Area. As long as a big population of Asians exist in San Francisco, ramen will continue to be trendy and a crowd favorite.
LUCKYRICE: When not eating and cooking Japanese food, what other cuisine do you crave?
Ken: When I'm not slurping on ramen or enjoying some yakitori, my favorite cuisines are Italian, Chinese, and Korean.
LUCKYRICE: Favorite late-night snack?
Ken: Hands down my favorite local taco truck, a hearty bowl of ramen, and of course a Double Double burger from In-N-Out!