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Richie Nakano Returns With a (Not Hapa) Ramen Pop-Up at Alta CA

It's a late-night affair from 11 p.m.- til the ramen runs out.

Alta CA
Alta CA
Patricia Chang

Hapa Ramen might be gone, but it is certainly not forgotten. And in case the memory is getting a little fuzzy, former Hapa chef Richie Nakano is bringing back some of his signature ramen for a late-night pop-up at Alta CA this Sunday.

On the heels of last week's successful Tex-mex pop-up at Wing Wings, Nakano announced his intention to bring back the ramen via Twitter; apparently, it seemed too good to be true, as some of his followers required a little convincing."It's just awesome that a great chef [Alta CA chef David Goody] and a world-class chef-owner [Daniel Patterson] are allowing me to do this, which I guess is why people didn't believe my tweet," said Nakano.

The pop-up came about after Nakano spent some time on the line at Alta CA, following the departure of executive chef Yoni Levy. "Daniel [Patterson] asked if I could help out and I said sure. You don't really tell him no." laughed Nakano. There he started discussing a pop-up collaboration with Alta's executive chef David Goody, who has logged time in the kitchen of Morimoto. "He has a strong connection to Japanese food," said Nakano. "Probably even more than I do. Plus, there were all these ramen bowls from when Plum became Ume lying around."

Thus the pop-up became reality. Nakano says the format will be the same as previous pop-ups, offering  a small menu focused on ramen, specifically "the style that people on Yelp really hate." And while there may be "a few tricks up our sleeves," according to Nakano, it'll be pretty straightforward with dishes like miso corn ramen with summer vegetables, slow cooked pork ramen with chashu and a special soft serve sundae situation.

As for the return to ramen, Nakano says he's excited to get back to his roots, and is considering turning the whole shebang into a regular series of pop-ups when he returns from some summer travel. And, ramen's not the only thing on the chef's plate (or in his bowl, whatever). Nakano says that after the success of their Tex-Mex dinner, he's got more pop-ups in the works with Wing Wings owner Christian Ciscle, including a French bread pizza-focused affair inspired by a Roy Choi dish he tasted at LA's Line Hotel.

"We want to to do something really chill and affordable, just try to have fun and not take things too seriously," said Nakano. "I feel like the SF food scene has been missing a little bit of fun, lately. It's just food, everyone needs to calm down."

The pop-up is happening this Sunday, July 12 from 11 p.m.- the ramen runs out or the liquor license shuts them down (which is actually 2 a.m.) at Alta CA.

Alta CA

1420 Market Street, , CA 94102 (415) 590-2585 Visit Website