A Bright Ramen

By / Photography By LAWRENCE FENG | December 29, 2017
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Donburi, a rice-based dish
Donburi, a rice-based dish

Ramen Nagomi opened for business quietly last year. No fanfare, no massive public relations schedule, no social media campaign. Even a year later, the ramen restaurant, nestled in the heart of New Brunswick, barely catches a passerby’s attention with its simplistic, black-and-white sign. Ramen Nagomi wants its quality to speak for itself.

Featuring assari-style ramen, Ramen Nagomi serves a menu of dishes made entirely from authentic Japanese spices, organic produce and humanely raised livestock. Mushrooms come from Shibumi Farms in Princeton, chicken from Murray’s Chicken and certifled-humane pork from Niman Ranch. According to Ramen Nagomi’s chef and owner Sabastian Karyadi, sourcing locally supports farmers and culture, and also produces better and healthier food.

“When animals, like pigs, can’t move around freely and eat healthily their meat doesn’t smell or taste good,” says Karyadi. “That’s why we try to go as organic and certiflably humane as possible. We don’t want to give our customers something that isn’t good for them.”

Karyadi, who has worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant in California, prefers to keep things low key “I don’t want my restaurant to celebrate the chef; I want my food to speak for itself.”

Even Karyadi’s ramen reflects his philosophy Ramen generally comes in two styles: assari and kotteri. Kotteri features a rich, deeply flavorful broth, while assari utilizes a lighter refreshing but still flavorful broth. Karyadi’s assari-style stands out among most ramen, because his broth’s delicate nature helps bring out the flavor of the other ingredients.

“I’ve had a lot of ramen, but what was missing for me was a broth that’s able to elevate the other ingredients in the bowl,” Karyadi says. “Many times, the other components get toned down because of the stronger flavor of the broth.”

This all changed when Karyadi had kinmedai osuimono, a clear broth soup made with golden-eye snapper at Mori Sushi, the Los Angeles-based Michelin-starred sushi restaurant where he trained before moving to New Jersey The soup could bring out many layers of flavor; but still stay light. So, when he opened Ramen Nagomi, Karyadi, inspired by the soup, strove to make ramen with a broth that could produce the same effect. After experimenting with the broth at different temperatures, he developed a method to keep the lightness of the broth consistent.

“Every single ramen is made to order” says Karyadi. “Instead of keeping the broth boiling and scooping it out, we heat the broth every time we get an order It takes longer but the ramen’s better this way”

Karyadi opened Ramen Nagomi in April 2016 after moving to New Jersey from Los Angeles. He moved here with his wife, who currently studies Japanese art history as a doctoral candidate at Princeton University. Located in New Brunswick, Ramen Nagomi serves mainly Rutgers students. Karyadi aims to open two more restaurants in New Jersey: Poke Nagomi, a poke restaurant in New Brunswick, and Nagomi, a sushi restaurant in Princeton. He plans to open the two restaurants in collaboration with Chef Yoshiki Matsubara, formerly of K-ZO (Los Angeles) and Nobu (Las Vegas), as well as ChefJeffry Undiarto of n/naka (Los Angeles).

49 Bayard St., New Brunswick

Article from Edible Jersey at http://ediblejersey.ediblecommunities.com/eat/bright-ramen
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