UPDATE: Kimura opened Monday and Tuesday, but will close again until Aug. 5 for more prep. Chef and owner Michael Sohocki says that he will have to re-think his plan to offer nothing but homemade ramen in the restaurant. But, Kimura is still alive, and definitely a go next week. To stay in touch with the restaurant day to day, visit them on Facebook. Here are his thoughts.
“We have built a flying, firebreathing monster of a restaurant. Now comes the tricky part of getting a bridle and saddle on it and learning how to stay in control,” Sohocki said.
“We had an avalanche of people (on Monday). We seat 40 at the most and there had to be 100 people there. They were standing between the tables. We couldn’t see out the windows. Heads and shoulders out the door and down the street in both directions. Camera flashes.
“Which is great. San Antonio is dying for something remarkable, and we can deliver that. We aimed for something really cutting edge and exciting, and we just happened to hit the bulls-eye with this one.
“But hand-making the noodles, we just couldn’t keep up. Me, Jenn and the sous chef Dave Rizo have gotten about eight hours of sleep in the past three days. On Monday night we were up until 4:30 making ramen and gyoza with four other cooks and two hand-crank pasta machines going full speed,” Sohocki said.
On Tuesday, the chef and cooks were still cranking out noodles to serve customers, one machine had broken and at 1 p.m. the doors had to be closed. “And we collapsed on the floor, basically,” he said.
The upshot of this scenario was a change in plans.
“We will have to buy the noodles. No two ways about it,” Sohocki said. “Everything else will still be handmade, but we have to make this one concession if we are to survive.”
Kimura will reopen Monday. “There will have to be a break between lunch and dinner to reset the kitchen, I’m thinking between 2 and 5:30. Sunday will be a day of rest,” Sohocki said. — Emily Stringer
By Emily Stringer
Chef Michael Sohocki has done it again, breaking the barriers of traditional cuisine here in the Alamo City by now focusing on a ramen noodle shop, set to open Monday.
CIA grad Sohocki began with Restaurant Gwendolyn, at 152 Pecan St., where he made a national mark by only using a combination of non-electric tools, gas burners and farm-fresh ingredients found within a 150-mile radius.
Now, after eight months in the making, Sohocki’s Kimura Ramen Shop is just about ready to open its doors. While Sohocki maintains his from-scratch mentality, San Antonio diners, eaters, and Japanese enthusiasts will soon meet the hip younger sister to Restaurant Gwendolyn — located right next door.
The name comes from co-owner and general manager Jennifer Wade’s family name — “Kimura,” meaning “tree village” in Japanese. Keeping true to the name, Sohocki will be maintaining the deeply rooted Japanese traditions to ramen “noodling.” And, though ramen noodles are the highlight of Kimura, Sohocki has added a variety of traditional Japanese menu items as well.
A few diners gathered at Kimura Wednesday to get a preview of tastes of the Japanese fare before doors opened — and here is just a glimpse of what you might expect.
While dining at Kimura you may begin your ramen-eating adventure with some Hijiki which is a traditional salad of seasoned seaweed and perhaps some ahi tuna that you will find dazzled with Ra-iu, a Japanese spice packet with a gentle heat and splashed with fresh sesame oil.
A few pieces of nigiri sushi might appear, hand-rolled and topped with fresh, vibrant shrimp and succulent octopus. However, the true identity of Kimura is founded with Sohocki’s “from scratch” ramen noodles and three of the traditional ways of preparing them.
Whether it be a base of miso broth, or perhaps a more traditional broth named “tonkotsu,” with a pork-bone base, or a more comfort-based “shōyu,” traditionally made with chicken bones, Kimura will be offering two on the menu and the third type of ramen as a special.
Sohocki says the tonkotsu is his own favorite, and is the most foreign to the Western palate.”Whether you are in the mood for a cozy urban atmosphere, some ramen slurping, or some of the city’s freshest seafood, we think you’ll want to join Sohocki and Wade at Kimura.
The doors will officially open Monday (July 29), with offerings of an 8 a.m. coffee and pastry service, continuing to 11 a.m. where diners can explore the new menu and inhale the flavorful aromas. Kimura will be open until midnight, with hours and operations subject to change. Check them on Facebook.
Emily Stringer is a San Antonio free-lance writer, PR professional, blogger and book author.