Profile: Yuji Haraguchi, the Man Behind Our Favorite Ramen in New York, "Yuji Ramen"

August 15, 2012 5:49 AM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Yujis Bacon and Egg Ramen
Yuji's Bacon and Egg Ramen (Photo: Yelp)

Finding good ramen in New York is a dizzying, harrowing experience. It's also one of those all-too-uncommon good problems, considering that any of those feelings don't come from a lack of options, but rather from being inundated with so many choices for where you can go to get your fix of noodles.

Since we first tried his noodles a couple of months ago at Smorgasburg, we've been die-hard fans of Yuji Haraguchi's Yuji Ramen, a pop-up noodle bar that served up some absolutely incredible noodle dishes week-after-week.

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What separates Yuji Ramen from his competitors? Mr. Haraguchi told us: "My ramen is specialized in Mazemen style with local and seasonal ingredients from the market."

Apart from its high quality, Yuji got his start as a seafood salesman whose clients have included some of the world's finest restaurants-- most impressive on that list is probably Thomas Keller's per se. While doing so, he noticed that Americans take too damn long (our words, not his) to finish their ramen, so the noodles lose their elegant structural integrity.

His solution to that problem? Cold broth or no broth paired with curly ramen noodles.

The other thing that sets Yuji Ramen apart from its competitors? There are some seriously wild flavors-- our favorite probably being the sweet corn and bacon mazamen.

Though patrons of Yuji Ramen used to enjoy more chances throughout the week to try Mr. Haraguchi's noodles at Kinfolk Studios, many (chief among them, yours truly) were disappointed to find out that Yuji Ramen would no longer be appearing at Kinfolk during the week.

"I left Kinfolk because I have accomplished my goals of being there and wanted to spend more time to study cooking, especially vegetables," Mr. Haraguchi told us in an interview.

The prospect of the Yuji brand becoming as skilled with veggies as it is with ramen is an exciting one. Mr. Haraguchi is already an expert at sourcing and choosing only the finest vegetables-- it will be nothing short of a marvel to see him prepare them in wonderful ways.

What's next for Mr. Haraguchi? "I am planning to open my own restaurant in the future," he told us, "Until then, I will be at Smorgasburg."

We can't wait.



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