Predictions about ramen as Houston's hot dining trend have cooled in recent months. What once seemed like a movement that would sweep the city has settled into outposts of five restaurants — California's Jinya Ramen, Seattle's Samurai Noodle, Washington Avenue late night spot Ninja Ramen, west Houston's Ramen Jin, and Chinatown favorite Tiger Den.
Still, a truly acclaimed restaurant could capture diners' attention, and it seems that one of them has set its sights on Houston. Tatsu Aikawa, the executive chef and co-owner of Austin's celebrated Ramen Tatsu-Ya, is also the registered agent for a company called "I Own This Dirt, LLC." That company has purchased a property in Montrose at 1714 California Street, according to Harris County property tax records.
Located just behind celebrated Italian restaurant Da Marco, the lot's size of almost 15,000-square feet seems to include the adjacent property at 1722 California, which was once slated to be home to Andes Cafe chef/owner David Guerrero's upscale South American restaurant Evo.
While buying property that happens to contain a restaurant on it and opening a restaurant in that building are two different things, the purchase certainly suggests that Aikawa and co-owner Takuya "Tako" Matsumoto have put their long-delayed plans to open in Houston back on track. When all this is happening remains a bit of a mystery.
Noodle obsessives scarcely need an introduction to Ramen Tatsu-Ya. Since its opening in 2012, the restaurant has racked up accolades, including a spot on Bon Appetit editor Andrew Knowlton's list of America's best new restaurants in 2013.
Credit for that success starts with the restaurant's broth, which takes as long as 60 hours to prepare. Properly cooked noodles and carefully chosen toppings complete the experience (this video explains the process).
CultureMap has reached out to Tatsu-ya's representative for comment on Aikawa's purchase and his plans for Houston. We will update this article when we receive a response.