Keizo Shimamoto has had to answer a lot of questions about the Ramen Burger. Did he know it would be such a hit? (Not really.) How did he come up with the idea? (A lot of experimenting.) Does he want to devote his career to it? (Not entirely.)
Yet he doesn't seem tired of talking about it. In fact, Shimamoto, 36, is downright gracious when he talks about his viral hit. A true master is proud of his craft.
But Shimamoto says ramen - not the Ramen Burger - is his true passion.
"The ramen is my heart and soul," he said.
He recently opened Ramen.Co in the Financial District where steaming bowls of ramen are sold at a brisk pace, but Ramen Burgers are sold, too. And on Wednesday, he will open a Ramen Burger stand inside the brand new Berg'n beer hall in Crown Heights. (He got his start at Smorgasburg, also run by the team behind Berg'n.) Ramen Burgers are the star here, but Shimamoto has also found a way to merge what he's famous for with what he truly loves.
It's called Burger Ramen.
Shimamoto is taking the Ramen Burger concept into new terrain with Burger Ramen, which is an Abura-soba (oil noodles) style ramen, with no broth. Flat and thick noodles are the base, and come topped with a certified Angus beef patty, arugula, scallions and secret shoyu sauce, just like on the burger. Cheese and bacon can also be added. The Abura style features flavors of vinegar and chili oil.
Shimamoto's ramen exploration began in Japan. He was a computer programmer in California and just picked up and moved there to study ramen. He traveled all over the country for four years, learning about the different styles, and worked at the original Ivan Ramen in Tokyo. He even considered staying there to live.
"I loved it there. Even when I first came here [to New York City] I thought 'I'll go back,'" he said.
Luckily for us, Shimamoto and his wife, a ballet dancer, settled in New York City. And in the midst of the ramen boom, we have a brave and creative chef trying new things.
Ramen Burger opens at Berg'n, 899 Bergen St., Crown Heights on Wednesday, Aug. 27.
How to make the Ramen Burger:
Pan fry the bun
Keizo Shimamoto won't divulge his secret for keeping the noodles together. So the first step we know of is to put the buns on the heat. Let each side cook for a 1-2 minutes or until browned. Flip and repeat. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Cook the burger
Season each side and cook for a couple of minutes. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Add weight to cook the burger
This ensures a nice char on the burger and an even distribution of heat. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Some greenery is needed: put some fresh baby arugula on the bottom ramen bun. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Bun to patty
When the patty is done, place it on top of the arugula. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Keizo Shimamoto won't divulge what's in his secret shoyu sauce, either. We taste some soy, garlic, sweet rice vinegar and sesame. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
A healthy dusting of scallions is necessary for the Ramen Burger. They add depth and crunch. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
The Ramen Burger
The finished product: almost too pretty to eat. Almost. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)