Thursday, October 18, 2012

Night 4 @ Yume Wo Katare: Still crazy

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Rar. Found out last night when I got home after over 7 hours at Yume Wo Katare that there was a hater on Yelp who'd said I was an employee and that my review was fake. I actually like their ramen. If I hadn't, I probably would have just posted some pictures and no review. People have assumed that I'm an employee, but I'm just one of several friends volunteering to help them out. I don't think the Nishiokas had any idea how high the demand for their ramen would be. They already have fans and there were many repeat customers last night. The lines have been insane every night and I get the feeling it's not going to die down any time soon, especially as word gets out and people keep coming back. Which is great, because although this is the 7th ramen shop they've opened, it's the only one they currently own, so it's like starting from scratch. It was certainly a gamble to come to the US and open a shop with a style of ramen (Jiro) that is love it or hate it.  They are looking to hire staff but although they've had some inquiries, nothing has panned out yet.

So, I'm working for free ramen and an all access backstage pass to the workings of an authentic Japanese ramen shop which I then write about here for the public. I try to stay out of the way when I'm taking pictures and not ask too many questions, just watch, listen, and learn as I go. I won't help out forever, but they need the help and it's fun for me.

I had half a spinach knish from Kupel's and some Raspberry Noosa Yoghurt (first time and it was delicious) before heading out to Yume Wo Katare. Early in the evening it wasn't too bad opening the door but as the hours went by I got hungrier and hungrier. About halfway through the night I had some delicious apple cake baked by a friend of the Nishiokas. I was good for a little while, but late in the evening standing inside the restaurant was torture. My fellow volunteer and I couldn't wait until it was time to eat. When the line dropped after 9pm we got very excited, but by 10pm the line had jumped to 27. We closed the line at 10:05pm. The last customers didn't get their food until 11:25pm.

By 5:45 the line was past the edge of the window.

I took some notes but managed to lose them over the course of the evening, so I'll write what I can remember. Last night the line started at 5:15pm. You really want to be in the first 6 or 12 to get in with the first group. By the time they're open the wait seems to be well over an hour. We actually opened at about 5:50pm. The first (repeat) customer was out the door by 6:15pm and I think we started seating the next 12 by 6:30pm. We got 30 people in the door and eating by 7pm, but things slow down substantially as the night goes on because some people eat slowly. You can't judge the wait by how many people are in line because many people are waiting for friends.

The line at 5:59pm after the first 6 people were let in.

I forgot to ask what the count was at the end of the night but I'm pretty sure it was over 100. Saturday and Tuesday were about the same at 110. I noticed it's going to rain this weekend. I'm wondering if that will keep the crowds away.

My fellow volunteer is ready to stuff ramen into his mouth.

11:25pm At last! Bowl #4.

Mine is not as tall as the others.

I was right that you need to be starving to finish. This was the first time I managed to eat all my food and some of the broth. I also learned from reading other sites about Jiro-kei ramen that the way to do it is to eat quickly, eat the noodles first and the rest later. There's no shame in not finishing the broth, although damn impressive if you can.

Gochisousama deshita!

Tsuyoshi-san finished his ramen in 5 minutes flat and went right back to work. I think it took me about 15-20 minutes.

Update 9:40pm: Stopped by Yume Wo Katare and found out last night was almost 130 people, so close to Friday night's crowd. People have asked me when is the best night/time to go and it's really hard to know. I'd guess that when the weather is bad people will be less motivated to stand in line, but so far the cold hasn't deterred too many people. From what I've seen you really need to be first or last in line to have the shortest wait.

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