Game Changer: Qui's Ramen

The hype is real and the hype is well-deserved. Qui Tran, the smiling face of Mai Lee, is about to rain authentic Japanese ramen down over St. Louis. Earlier this summer, Qui brought in ramen expert Shigetoshi Nakamura and Sun Noodles representative Asako Ochiai to workshop all aspects of the ramen making process with himself and Mary-Anne Velasco, executive chef of the ramen shop. I was lucky enough to get to hang out and steal food when no one was looking. Gregg Goldman, stud food photographer and occasional writer, was also there. He wrote a great summary of the weekend—a must read; I'm just here to be the hype man.

 Nudo Ramen Testing

Nudo Ramen Testing

 Nudo Ramen Qui Tran

Nudo Ramen Qui Tran

 Nudo Ramen Qui Tran Chopping

Nudo Ramen Qui Tran Chopping

 Nudo Ramen Qui Tran Knives

Nudo Ramen Qui Tran Knives

 Nudo Ramen Miso Ramen Prep

Nudo Ramen Miso Ramen Prep

Whatever you think is good ramen in St. Louis currently is not. In fact, when comparing it to real ramen, it's downright bad. Ramen isn't just one type of noodle soup either. Going to Japan and proudly professing "I LOVE RAMEN!" is not unlike someone standing up and yelling "I LOVE SOUP!" in the US.

Educate yourself: ramen is regional and varies hugely. The big 4 are shoyu (soy), shio (salt), tonkotsu (pork bone broth), and miso (fermented bean paste), but there are tons more. Chicken ramen is becoming more prominent, some with thin broths and some with schmaltzy, unctuous bases. Some ramen isn't even a soup - it's noodles dipped into broth as you eat. Spend some time reading Lucky Peach's Regional Ramen Guide.

If I sound smug or arrogant, like some kind of ramen elitist, it's because I am. I lived off that shit in Singapore. Kara (spicy) miso ramen coursed through my veins.

Here's a glimpse of the madness that went on that weekend: egg making, pork tasting, broths galore, noodle measuring, and, finally, ramen eating.

 Nudo House Ramen Egg Marinating

Nudo House Ramen Egg Marinating

 Nudo House Qui Tran Ramen Eggs

Nudo House Qui Tran Ramen Eggs

 Nudo House Team

Nudo House Team

 Nudo House St. Louis Pork Belly

Nudo House St. Louis Pork Belly

 Nudo House Ramen Noodles St. Louis

Nudo House Ramen Noodles St. Louis

 Nudo House Ramen St. Louis Ingredients

Nudo House Ramen St. Louis Ingredients

 Nudo House Qui Tran Miso Chili St. Louis

Nudo House Qui Tran Miso Chili St. Louis

 Nudo House St. Louis Garlic

Nudo House St. Louis Garlic

 Nudo House Ramen Qui Tran St. Louis

Nudo House Ramen Qui Tran St. Louis

 Nudo House Ramen St. Louis Jack Nakamura

Nudo House Ramen St. Louis Jack Nakamura

 Nudo House Ramen Bowl St. Louis

Nudo House Ramen Bowl St. Louis

 Nudo House Miso Ramen St. Louis

Nudo House Miso Ramen St. Louis

 Nudo House Tonkotsu Ramen St. Louis

Nudo House Tonkotsu Ramen St. Louis

 Nudo House Ramen Testing Crew St. Louis

Nudo House Ramen Testing Crew St. Louis

What Nakamura and Qui made that weekend was on par with any ramen I've ever had before, whether in the US, Japan, or Singapore. We still have a ways to go before it opens - Qui says Q1 2016, I'm hoping for Q4 2015 - but you can rest assured that when it opens, you'll be getting the best ramen that's ever been made in St. Louis.