Popular Toronto restaurant invited to set up food stall at ramen museum in Japan

Ryus Noodle Bar, a popular Toronto ramen restaurant, will soon be serving noodles on the other side of the world at the Ramen Museum in Yokohama, Japan.

Chef-owner of Ryus Noodle Bar, a Japanese ramen restaurant, is thrilled

Ryuichiro Takahashi, chef-owner of Ryus Noodle Bar, says the opportunity to open in the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum in Japan has kept him motivated after a devastating fire gutted his first location. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

A popular Toronto restaurant will soon be serving noodles on the other side of the world at a ramen museum in Japan.

Ryus Noodle Bar, a Japanese ramen eatery that specializes in noodle soups, has been chosen to set up a food stall in the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum in Yokohama. The museum, which calls itself a food-themed amusement park, has space in its food court for only two ramen restaurants not from Japan.

Ryuichiro Takahashi,  chef-owner of Ryus Noodle Bar, is thrilled to be chosen.

"Every owner of a restaurant in there is a legend," he said. "Very exciting."

The view of Ryus Noodle Bar from Broadview Avenue. Its original spot on Baldwin Street was gutted by fire last summer. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Takahashi told CBC Toronto he remembers visiting the museum when he lived in Japan. "And after 20 years, I get to open my own restaurant in the ramen museum," he said.

The opportunity represents a fresh start after the original Ryus Noodle Bar was gutted by fire last summer at its Baldwin Street location.

"Fortunately, no one got injured and no death. Otherwise I'd stop running the restaurant," he said.

Owner worried fire hurt its chances for a stall

The fire occurred when scouts for the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum were still deliberating which North American restaurants to induct. 

The fire ravaged the rowhouse where the noodle bar had operated since 2013. (Supplied by Dali Mancia)

The year before, museum representatives toured ramen restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. 

They liked what Takahashi cooked up for them at the Baldwin Street location before the fire forced it to close. 

Takahashi said he was worried the fire hurt the noodle bar's chances, "If we stopped the business, they could not invite me."

He turned that worry into motivation and focused on his second location, which is on Broadview Avenue 

Judges paid him a second visit and his chicken "Shio" ramen sealed the deal. 

Ontario umami in a bowl 

Instead of pork bone, the chicken "Shio" ramen is made with a chicken broth infused with traditional Japanese ingredients, such as bonito flakes and other dried fish. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

While most ramen broths are made with a pork-bone base, Takahashi's shio (salt-broth) ramen is made with a chicken soup base. 

"Ontario has good chicken, I think better than other areas," he said.

Takahashi said the dish is a fusion of what he considers the best of what his new home has to offer and the traditional Japanese ingredients he still uses to create the full-bodied broth.

He'll be spending a month in Yokohama training a staff of about 15 to cook his recipes and serve museum visitors starting Oct. 17. 

The museum's ramen shops are set up in a "street-scape replication" from 1958 Japan. That was the year that the world's first instant ramen was invented.

The Shin-Yokohama Ramen museum features exhibits that tell the story of the origin of the Japanese noodle dish and has a food court that serves ramen from many regions. Two stalls are reserved for restaurants not from Japan. Ryus Noodle Bar is one of them. (Ryus Noodle Bar/Facebook)