An out-of-town restaurant is making a big bet that Houston's appetite for ramen won't be satiated anytime soon. Fresh off last week's arrival of acclaimed Austin-based restaurant Ramen Tatsu-ya, AGU, a ramen bistro, announced that it will add three more Houston-area locations to the three it opened at the end of 2016.
Beginning in mid-March, the Hawaii-based noodle joint will add outposts in Sugar Land (2130 Lone Star Drove), Katy (514 S Mason Road), and the Clear Lake area (1360 NASA Parkway) to its three existing locations in the Energy Corridor, Westchase, and the former Christian's Tailgate at Washington Avenue and I-10. The approximately 60-seat restaurants, all of which are "second generation" properties that have previously been home to other concepts, will sport a more contemporary look than AGU's initial forays into the Houston market.
The new locations will also put AGU in direct competition with Jinya Ramen, the California-based chain that is adding locations in Sugar Land and Katy to its existing locations in Clear Lake and Midtown.
"Houston residents have been great supporters of AGU Ramen, and we’re very excited to continue to introduce our ramen to the surrounding communities,” said AGU chef-owner Hisashi Uehara in a statement. “Customers at the new locations can expect to find the same authentic ramen and traditional Japanese dishes that have made our other three locations a success."
That ramen starts with the restaurant's signature tonkotsu broth, which Uehara told CultureMap he developed after visiting over 600 ramen restaurants in Japan. Boiled for 20-plus hours at a time, the broth is made in 80 gallon batches that utilize over 1,500 pounds of pork bones. The kotteri broth, dubbed the "Houston Oiler" for its inky color, ups the flavor factor with a dose of black garlic. Many of the toppings are made in house using ingredients imported from Japan.
Since coming to the mainland, AGU has added Hawaiian-style dishes like poke bowls and chicken katsu to its offerings. A selection of small plates that includes dumplings and Japanese pork sausage rounds out the menu. Katy and Sugar Land will add beer, wine, and sake to the mix, while the Clear Lake location will feature a full bar.