By Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
IDAHO FALLS – Top Ramen or PB&J is a staple for many American diets. A new restaurant in Idaho Falls offers customers a chance to try real Ramen from Japan.
Hokkaido Ramen House opened on Monday at 901 Pier View Drive near Love at First Bite and Bill’s Bike & Run in Snake River Landing.
Store Manager Marcela Bate tells EastIdahoNews.com the new restaurant seems to be a hit with customers.
“We’ve been really busy. We’re really small, so we can’t fit a lot of people right now. We usually have waitlists every night and morning. People are really happy. We’ve had a lot of good comments about it,” Bate says.
A grand opening is in the works once the restaurant is fully staffed.
If you’ve never had authentic Ramen, Bate says there’s no comparison to the stuff you buy at the grocery store.
“We have different broths for each one. You can do it spicy if you want to and we have vegetables, meat, eggs and different ingredients in every single dish. You can customize it to however you want to eat it,” Bate explains. “It also has much bigger portions.”
Hokkaido’s menu includes 11 different Ramen dishes, including Spicy Miso Ramen, which comes with a slice of grilled pork, fried onions, sweet corn, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, scallions, spicy chili paste and a spicy miso chili powder. There’s also Chicken Rich Ramen, a portion of chicken breast, marinated egg, bamboo shoots, bok choy (Chinese cabbage), and green onions.
So far, Bate says the most popular dish is the Spicy beef Ramen, served with a radish and a mild spicy paste, scallions accented with cilantro, beef brisket, a large beef back rib and a lime.
Haikkodo Ramen opened in Pocatello earlier this year and first opened in Helena, Montana about three years ago.
Johnny Deng, the brother-in-law to the owners, Hao Wang and Ling Ling Zhu, is speaking on their behalf because they’re originally from China and don’t speak English very well. He says the Idaho Falls location has been in the works for about three years.
“We had our eyes on the Idaho market over five years ago (before we even opened the Helena location),” Deng says. “Idaho is growing like crazy and it was really easy to find space. We had a feeling it would be a popular place to open a restaurant.”
They were initially considering Boise for the first Idaho location but ultimately decided on eastern Idaho.
Wang and his wife first came to the U.S. about 13 years ago. Deng says it was their thirst for a piece of the American Dream that originally brought them here. After working many jobs in different states, they finally got lucky when they opened the Helena store. It’s turned into a successful venture for them because there are now seven total locations throughout Montana and Idaho.
“I just love the owners. They work so hard. They’re so dedicated and are here morning to night every day. They take great care of their restaurant and how it’s perceived and how their food looks,” Bate says. “It makes us want to work just as hard.”
The owners are looking for cooks, bartenders and servers. Bate is the manager of the Pocatello store but she’s filling in at the Idaho Falls location until a permanent manager is hired.
Once the Idaho Falls store is established, Deng says they’re planning to eventually open another location somewhere in Idaho. For now, they’re happy to be serving customers and they’re inviting you to sample their menu.
“Come on down and try us out,” says Bate. “We’re thinking of putting in outdoor seating in the near future once we get more servers. Hao is the only cook right now and he’s really working to get it going.”
Hokkaido Ramen House is open 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It’s open all day Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with a 9 p.m. closing time Sunday.
Read more at eastidahonews.com