“I’m getting pretty nervous with the demand for it, I’ve got to say,” admits Adam Gallop, who co-owns St. John’s newest culinary adventure with Jasmine Kean.
Ramen, for those unfamiliar with the Asian cuisine, is a simple yet flavourful dish that consists of five basic aspects: broth, noodle, meat and/or vegetables, a bit of oil and tare, the base flavour.
“It’s quick and it’s filling. I couldn’t finish the bowl of noodles he made last night. I wanted to finish, but I couldn’t get it all in my belly, but it was delicious,” says Kean.
While plenty of restaurants may occasionally offer ramen dishes as part of a nightly special, the pair figure they are opening St. John’s first official ramen house, one they figure captures the look and feel of similar establishments around the world.
“It’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere,” says Kean. “We just want people to be able to come in, fill their bellies, feel good.”
Adds Gallop, “You don’t have to really designate three hours of an evening to come out and have something nice to eat and see your friends. Come down here, you order, you sit, you eat and you’re out of here in half an hour or 40 minutes if you need to.”
Gallop, who brings 14 years of experience as a chef at various fine dining restaurants to the table, has been cooking up the idea of opening a ramen house for the last four years. Both feel it’s long overdue for St. John’s and its growing appetite for new and different culinary tastes.
“We felt like if we don’t get this done now, someone else is going to do it,” says Kean, who grew up in a family-restaurant environment in Labrador City, but will handle the administrative role at Bad Bones Ramen while Gallop handles the cooking.
While some might be inclined to suggest opening a restaurant in the province’s current economic climate isn’t exactly a recipe for success, downtown St. John’s has proved to be a welcoming home to places that offer something more unique than traditional pub fare.
Restaurants like Basho, Adelaide Oyster House, Merchant Tavern and Piatto regularly bustle with activity.
“I’m very happy with the culinary scene here in St. John’s compared to what it was 10 years ago. There were some great places 10 years ago that just couldn’t make it here because people weren’t ready for it.”
People are ready now and Gallop feels Bad Bones Ramen is coming in with the right product at the right price. The highest-priced item on the seven-dish menu, PHO, is $14.
“People have little money to spend, and they want to come out and get something with some value,” he says. “With this, you’ll get value economically and gastronomically.”
Gallop has been preparing ramen dishes at home for friends and family — to rave reviews — for a number of years. What appeals to him about it is the interchangeable nature of ingredients.
“Myself, I’m classically trained in French and Italian cuisine … so what I’ve learned from them I can really bring it to the quality of the basics here because I’m going back to basics, but I’m using different methods,” he explains.
“I can bring new flavours to old combinations of flavours that I’ve had and used in the past that I know people like.”
In order to get quality ingredients in the quantity required, Gallop and Kean will often have to look outside the province, including for most of their noodles.
“After speaking to a friend of mine, he said to me, ‘Adam, you’d be crazy to try to make your own noodles, you might as well make your own soya sauce as well,’” he says with a laugh.
Bad Bones Ramen’s hours of operation will be 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, but it will stay open until 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday in an effort to capture some of the late-night downtown crowd, both the revellers leaving bars in search of a late scoff and restaurant staff hungry after a night’s work.
“I know what it’s like being an industry person,” says Gallop. “When you get off work, you’re starving and there’s nowhere to go because everyone’s closed.”
Bad Bones Ramen will be closed on Sundays. You can check out the menu online at badbonesramen.ca.