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Japanese Chain Ramen Nagi Opens First US Location in Palo Alto This Month

With a San Jose outpost to follow

Ramen Nagi

Tokyo-founded chain Ramen Nagi, which runs more than 35 “universal noodle” shops in Asia, will start operations at its first stateside location in Palo Alto in late June or early July. Chef Satoshi Ikuta opened the first Ramen Nagi in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo in 2004, and in 2013, won an award for Tokyo Ramen of the Year. Ramen Nagi’s new US home is 541 Bryant Street in Palo Alto (in the former Zucca European restaurant space).

There, the restaurant will serve many of the same bowls that have endeared it to customers from Shanghai to Manila. Those varieties include the Original Butao King, a tonkotsu pork broth, the Red King, with a spicy, bright red miso broth, and the Black King, with squid, minced pork and black garlic for a “sumptuous jet-black aroma and flavor.”

Update, 12 p.m: The Ko Hospitality group, who are opening the branch of Ramen Nagi in Palo Alto, are also opening a second location at the Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose. That outpost will arrive later this summer. Both locations are designed by Kenichi Yano, CEO and Creative Producer of Tokyo-based Ten-nen-sha, Inc. with communal tables, two and four top tables, and bar seating for quick service.

Ramen Nagi is just the latest Asian chain export to target the Bay Area market: Our local affinity for foreign chains recently prompted the Chronicle’s Jonathan Kauffman to wonder why, in “the chain-averse Bay Area” customers were so smitten with chain restaurants like BAKE cheese tart. One premise: “Whether they originated in Tokyo or San Diego, the promise of chain restaurants has always been modernity and consistency.”

Another proposition, offered by fast food trade journal editor Nicole Duncan: “[By] the sheer nature of their global roots, [Asian chains] do not elicit the same unsavory feelings among consumers as their US counterparts [as US chains].”

Eater SF has reached out to representatives for Ramen Nagi for more details on the opening — stay tuned.