The extra space inside gives the crew more room to work on special dishes, including keeping ice cream for those brave souls (us) that want the sweet treat all winter.
The inclusion of ice cream means we can pair slurp-tastic ramen with lychee sorbet or matcha green tea or ube soft serve to compliment the spices and flavors. For the holidays, warm fall flavors such as pumpkin, apple cider and Cleveland Whiskey will be available to go by the pint.
“Part of it is that we're hopeful that we'll have more space to do fun things,” says co-owner Helen Qin. “We feel like we probably need to do fun things. Winter is just dark, and not being able to be outside as much because of COVID-19, not being able to be inside as much with friends or loved ones — just making it fun and different is going to be good.”
Qin and co-owner Jesse Mason started making ramen reminiscent of their favorite Los Angeles spots a few months after opening Mason’s Creamery in 2014. The two started offering the dish in a pop-up once a month, and it blew up so fast they decided to convert to ramen-only for the winter last year.
“Just for fun, Jesse really started making true tonkatsu ramen, the broth that takes hours to make,” Qin says. “Because there wasn't a lot of action on the ice cream front in the winter, we decided to just offer 30 bowls for fun to see if people would be interested. I think we sold out in like 15 minutes.”
Mason spends hours boiling pork broth with onions, charred ginger and spices for a flavorful, savory base for the noodles and toppings such as soft-boiled eggs and veggies. The menu will also include a mushroom-based vegan broth and a spicy shio broth made with kimchi. New for this year, Mason and Qin plan to offer specials and side dishes such as house-made silken tofu later in the season, as well as eventually introducing a ramen bowl topped with raclette cheese.
For Qin and Mason, both ice cream and ramen are emotional comfort foods.
“Ice cream is like a very emotional, visceral kind of thing,” Mason says. “Everybody has happy memories of ice cream and getting that, and hopefully with the ramen, it is kind of a comfort food. And this is the season for that.”
Qin and Mason also hope their ramen transformation serves as a consistent hallmark of normalcy during the pandemic.
“I think as a small and local business, being able to provide for our workers … through food is really important,” Qin says. “Being able to continue fighting during a hard time for so many restaurants and businesses is just incredibly meaningful and to be able to provide that consistency for our staff and our customers and ourselves, is worth fighting for.”
food & drink
11:00 AM EST
October 26, 2020