Check Out Ken's Ramen
A pint-size hostess sporting a septum piercing and clad all in black greets you, and directs you to write your name on a waitlist that hangs by the door. A huge photo of Fred Flintstone adorns the steel and wooden walls. If you peer over the counter, you can watch trendy-looking men toil away at gigantic pots of noodles. It’s a short wait – the service is quick – and you sit down with an accompaniment of bass-heavy beats. Your waiter is well-dressed and handsome, and he sits down at the table with you as he takes your order, because otherwise he wouldn’t be able to hear. The steaming bowls arrive just minutes later, and you load them up with hot pepper sauce. After slurping down your delicious noodles, you leave in a daze. Was it all a dream?
Nope, it wasn’t a dream. It was a meal at Ken’s Ramen, “Providence’s very own artisanal ramen noodle bar,” which recently opened downtown at 69 Washington Street. The “pre-soft” opening began on February 12th, and although the open hours have been slightly limited, Ken’s has been bustling non-stop ever since.
For the ramen-aficionados out there, Ken’s will not disappoint. Their style is all about “balance and quality,” and finding that sweet spot between innovation and classic flavor. They spent months in research and development, “tasting the world” by visiting the best ramen spots they could find. They source premium imported Japanese ingredients (not an easy task in Providence!), and make weekly trips to New York City for ingredient pickups. All of this lead-up work is part of the reason the restaurant’s opening has been slightly delayed. But the folks at Ken’s believe in “progression to perfection;” they’re taking it day by day, and making sure their product is absolutely perfect.
They’re still growing and adding to the menu: “We are playing around with some premium misos. We’re introducting the tsukemen (dipping ramen) for the soft opening, and planning to incorporate katsuo bushi (premium shaved bonito).” And it’s clear they’ve got even more tricks up their sleeve.
When asked what inspires their style, the Ken’s ramen staff said: “Anything that’s dope and cool! Literally!” That easygoing and enthusiastic spirit is palpable when you visit Ken’s. The team makes the playlist of eclectic hip-hop beats on their iPhones, and you can tell they’re enjoying the atmosphere just as much as the customers. They are inspired by all kinds of things, from “the best ramen shops around the world, to art galleries and museums, music, Martin Scorsese films, fashion, high street culture, Warhol, and Nobu Matsuhisa.” Now that’s an approach I can get behind.
Ken’s Ramen is located at 69 Washington St. in Providence, and open Tuesday through Saturday between 6 and 10pm with a fixed menu. The soft opening, with full menu, will be in early March. To become a Ken’s devotee, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, or visit their website.