The Ramen Obsession 

An interview with chef Will Richardson about what makes his popular pop-up tick.

click to enlarge Chef Will Richardson is wowing crowds with his pop-up, Shoryuken Ramen.

Ash Daniel

Chef Will Richardson is wowing crowds with his pop-up, Shoryuken Ramen.

What started out as dinner parties for friends morphed into a pop-up event called Shoryuken Ramen. Now, on Monday and Tuesday nights from 5-11 till February, Shoryuken will serve $10 bowls of ramen in the Lunch space on Summit Avenue. Style asked chef Will Richardson about his ramen, the pop-up’s success and his future plans.

Style: Why did you choose to focus on ramen? 

Richardson: I grew up in the restaurant industry and wanted to focus on French food rather than Asian food when I was younger. Then in 2006, I became the sous chef for DD33 Asian Bistro, and all the Asian flavors and ingredients prompted me to return to my roots. I looked to my grandmother to learn from her, and my ramen started from her chicken-soup base.

And where did the name come from?

I played a lot of “Street Fighter” as a kid. Shoryuken is a move in the game that means rising dragon fist. I actually just wanted to be able to answer the phone with “Shooooooryuuuuken!” My gamer friends thought it was perfect. My marketing partner didn’t love it at first, but she’s warmed up to it.

Why is everyone obsessed with ramen? 

I don’t know! I think it is because it’s a simple street food that takes so much care and mindfulness to prepare. It is the ultimate comfort food that’s still affordable. I think the simplicity of ramen universally appeals to all people, yet its versatility makes it fun. Of course we have celebrity chefs like David Chang of Momofuku and Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground to really help bring ramen to the mass media’s attention.

I noticed that your pop-up moved from the smaller Lunch building to the larger Supper space. Have you been surprised by the success you’ve had?

We’re actually still in the Lunch spot. When we have a wait list going, our guests often wait at Supper’s bar with a drink, and maybe that’s why we gave that impression. We are in awe of the response we’re getting from old and new ramen lovers at Lunch. We literally sat there looking at a full house with an hour wait list at 6:30 p.m. on our second week and had to pinch ourselves.

Any plans to extend your stay or expand the hours?

We’re thrilled to have a temporary home at Lunch, and everyone there has been so gracious and hospitable. We hope to keep the performance level up. It’s really important for us to have late-night hours. We’ll play it by ear on extending it further.

Is a real restaurant in your future? Can you share any ideas you might have for that?

We would love to have our own brick-and-mortar restaurant in the heart of Richmond in the upcoming year. We think Scott’s Addition, downtown and Jackson Ward would be a good fit and are planning a Kickstarter campaign in the next few months. 

What’s your favorite kind of ramen? 

I really like the classic shio (sea salt). I think it highlights the flavors of the broth and toppings better than other tare (seasoning liquids added to ramen broth), while providing a solid base. 


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