This past Saturday morning at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance, hundreds of people gathered in feverish anticipation of a burger-bowl-of-ramen-noodles hybrid: the Ramen Burger. Only six weeks ago, this beast debuted at the Smorgasburg outdoor food flea market in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and it was now to touchdown onto L.A. (Cue touchdown dance.)
First, the Ramen Burger by the numbers:
500: the alleged number of Ramen Burgers for sale.
1: the quantity each person was allowed to purchase.
$8: the price of a ramen burger.
75/25: the ratio of meat to fat in the beef patty used for the burger.
11 a.m.: the exact time when Ramen Burger madness was unleashed.
1,000+: the number of Ramen Burger fanatics who endured the Southern California summer heat in the hopes of getting a taste.
Not since the Kogi Truck have there been lines as daunting as the ones commanded by the Ramen Burger. And the coveted item all these patient foodies are after? Nothing more than a beef burger that’s sandwiched between two wheels of grilled ramen.
Possibly benefitting from the momentum of the Cronut craze, the second food fad to come out of New York this year is giving foodies with too much time on their hands something savory to Instagram about.
At first glance, the “buns” look like moist blocks of instant ramen, but are in fact braided coils of ramen custom made by the revered Sun Noodle company out of New Jersey. The pre-cooked noodles are grilled for a smoky char and flavor. After a good moment on the grill, the beef patty is placed on the springy bed of ramen, and then the secret shoyu sauce is slathered onto it. Finally some spunky arugula and fresh scallions are added before everything is buttoned up.
Keizo Shimamoto is the father of the Ramen Burger as we know it, although he admits being inspired by a version he experienced in Japan which incorporates chasu rather than a burger patty. Shimamoto spent four years in Tokyo studying, immersing in, and working with ramen, before returning to the U.S. to create his Ramen Burger.
Shimamoto is handling the unprecedented popularity of his creation with a steady head. He’s even consulted with Kogi for advice on how to navigate a food phenomenon frenzy that only a handful of cooks and chefs will ever know.
He’s also testing out flavors for a new Ramen Burger. One will be a nod to the original inspiration using chasu pork. His take will be meatier, stacking both the Angus patty and chasu onto one Ramen Burger. There's talk of Southern-style and mabo tofu Ramen Burgers too, ensuring the Ramen Burger rage will continue until the last person in line is served.
Speaking of line, check out the LINE-sanity inspired by the Ramen Burger pop-up at the Torrance Mitsuwa Marketplace. It’s just nuts! As in Cro-nuts.