Queens residents will no longer have to travel out of the borough to pick up a Ramen Burger.
Created by Chef Keizo Shimamoto in 2013, the burger – a beef patty topped with arugula, shoyu sauce and scallion between two ramen noodle buns – exploded with popularity. Shimamoto opened a ramen restaurant in the Financial District and also sells his burgers in California and New York at places like Brooklyn Flea and Smorgusburg.
Last year, the burger made its Queens debut at Queens Smorgasburg in Long Island City but was only offered on Saturdays for a few months. On Aug. 26, Shimamoto announced on Facebook that he would open a permanent popup in Long Island City.
A year and a half ago, Shimamoto began leasing a space at 13-13 40th Ave. and used it as his central kitchen to prep all of the food he sold at locations across the city. It is also the headquarters for his company Go Ramen Go Life, Inc., which provides chefs with quality ingredients and stocks to make their own ramen.
Last winter, he started selling his food at Lumpia Shack in the West Village on Sundays and Mondays but quickly found that not having his own space to prep and experiment was not ideal.
“There wasn’t that much of a foot traffic there,” Shimamoto said. “We couldn’t really grab a hold of the following that we gained in Smorgasburg. If I’m going to pop up at someone else’s kitchen I don’t want to just be sitting around. It wasn’t my kitchen. I wasn’t able to use the ingredients there and create new things.”
He decided to turn his central kitchen into a restaurant so that he could conveniently prep food and create new offerings to share with customers in one location.
“[With] Ramen shack [I’m] trying to create a sort of home not just for the ramen burger but different concepts I’ve created in the past and other things I foresee creating in the future,” Shimamoto said.
Ramen Shack will open on the week of Sept. 26 and the menu will consist of about 20 types of ramen soups including Truffle Shio, Tori Tan Tan and Tonkotsu Shoyu. The menu will also include the new Teri Pine burger, which includes a slice of pineapple.
Even though his menu is set, the chef said he may add a few of his experiments to the list and that regular customers who ask him to create something new might get lucky.
Shimamoto, a Japanese-American who spent his childhood traveling between Los Angeles and Japan, worked at ramen chain Bassanova, where he learned how to make ramen. He moved to New York – his first apartment was located in Astoria – to open a branch of the restaurant here. After leaving the restaurant, he received an opportunity to cook up his own dishes for Brooklyn Smorgasburg.
He put a spin on the traditional ramen burger in Japan, which consists of chashu, or pork belly. He replaced the pork belly with beef and created a special shoyu sauce. His creation has afforded him the opportunity to open his wholesale business and create dishes inspired by the ramen he’s eaten in Japan, he said.
Most of the dishes will be under $10, he said, but premium dishes will go up to about $13.
For now, Ramen Shack will be open from Tuesdays to Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. When the summer season ends, the restaurant will open on weekends as well.