“You used to give your interpretation and customers accepted it, but if diners want to know what’s in ramen or how to make it, they access it now via the internet,” says Luck Sarabhayavanija, founder and owner of Ani Ramen House in Montclair and Jersey City, New Jersey. “There’s zero room for errors, and if you make a mistake, you’ll hear about it.”
Sarabhayavanija reaches into his personal experience backpack to mix conventional tastes and current trends to spark his own slants on recipes. Ani Ramen House’s short rib ramen combines chicken and beef broth along with braised short rib for an updated dish, while its salt-based ramen that includes yuzu citrus notes is based on a restaurant experience Sarabhayavanija had traveling in Tokyo. “We went to this amazing ramen house, Afuri. They were using yuzu in ramen. I was skeptical; when I think ramen, I want a spicy bowl or something on the salty or earthy side. I don’t think of something citrus-y. [But] it worked so well,” he says. He is thrilled with the new menu addition back in New Jersey. “Every sip of broth, you get the salt, umami, and chicken broth, but it ends with a citrus note that feels like it cleanses your palate; it’s crazy,” he says.