REVIVING TRADITION: Authentic Japanese Ramen is Back at Tokyo
welcoming old faces and new, Tokyo Japanese Restaurant reintroduces an incredibly delicious and fan favorite food
Kelly Carlson, photos by Trenity White |
Walking into Tokyo Japanese Restaurant in Eau Claire is like walking into a little corner of the city of Tokyo, where the traditional wooden details and artwork on the walls perfume the gentle ambiance of the Japanese dishes served. Separated from the heat of Teppanyaki dining with simple yet beautiful walkway threads, the restaurant is once again serving up something long-missed: ramen.
Under new ownership, Tokyo Japanese Restaurant not only welcomes its previous executive chef, Nathaniel Wesley, back into the kitchen and management but also welcomes a new expansion for a specialized ramen tradition and chef, Evan Mowry.
“(When I started again at Tokyo), the only thing I kept hearing from everyone was, ‘You have got to bring the ramen back,’ ” Wesley laughed.
I FEEL LIKE EAU CLAIRE IS A COMMUNITY HUNGRY FOR MORE THAN JUST BURGERS AND FRIED FOOD.
CHEF AT TOKYO JAPANESE RESTAURANT
A traditional Chinese dish – inspired by a lake in China that, when cooked with the water, gives a specific flavor and look to noodles — ramen was originally frowned upon in Japan. But, once it started gaining traction, the Japanese infused their own cultural traditions and flavors into the soup. “Food is like a grid,” Wesley said. “You can line (up flavors horizontally) based on where they are in the world, and then you can fuse them together vertically (by country).” Ramen, as many of us think of it today, is a Chinese and Japanese fusion.
Now a staple of Japan, Tokyo Japanese Restaurant combines the essential four components – broth, noodles, tare (the flavoring), and oil – with hours of broiling, steaming, boiling, and simmering, all at the exact temperatures necessary, topped with green onions, a creamy soy sauce egg, and other delicacies, to create the most authentic ramen the Valley has ever seen (or tasted). The cooking time – a total of three days of preparation are involved – offers a glorious experience for diners. There are vegetarian and vegan options available, too.
"I feel like Eau Claire is a community hungry for more than just burgers and fried food,” Wesley started. “Everything we make here is from scratch. … We try to give people the best of the ingredients that you can find.
“Yoshi and Donna (Tsukano) created a tradition. We are continuing that tradition. ... Yoshi taught me everything.”
Hoping to hone the authentic experience of Japanese ramen after a chef’s trip to Japan this summer, the community should be excited to see, taste, and feel what the Tokyo team has in store. “I don’t just want to have the best ramen in Eau Claire. I want to have the best ramen in Wisconsin,” Wesley said.
Tokyo Japanese Restaurant has experienced many transitions in recent years. With new artwork, new dining chairs, new dishes, an expanded kitchen, and an adorable new mascot (a daikon, or radish plush), they’re aiming to bring back their iconic, and authentic, Japanese experience with a more specialized and modern touch all of our taste buds can be excited for.
“Yoshi and Donna (Tsukano) created a tradition,” Wesley explained, referring to the restaurant’s founders. “We are continuing that tradition. … Yoshi taught me everything.” He said, simply, “I am back.”
Make reservations or discover more of what Tokyo Japanese Restaurant has to offer at tokyoeauclaire.com.