First Look: Menya Rui in Lindenwood Park
Menya Rui, the noodle shop from Steven Pursley, is set to open on Thursday, April 21, at 3453 Hampton Ave. in Lindenwood Park. The 24-seat restaurant that started out as a pop-up called Ramen x Rui, has bar seating that gives diners a look into the open kitchen as well as communal seating. On one end of the restaurant, behind a glass window, is the room where Pursley and his team make all the noodles. At Menya Rui, given its name and menu, it’s clear the noodles here are a pretty big deal.
“Menya means noodle shop [in Japanese],” Pursley said. “I changed it from Ramen x Rui to Menya Rui because I wanted to get people thinking outside of just ramen. I want to push the tsukemen, I want to push the mazemen and move the culture forward.”
The menu is mostly noodle dishes (with the exception of two appetizers): three ramen, one tsukemen, or dipped noodles, and two mazemen, or brothless noodles. The shop focuses on making five components that are combined or layered in different ways to create each of the noodle dishes on the menu: one shoyu broth; different tare, which are concentrated seasoning mixtures to customize the broth; aromatic oils; noodles; and toppings.
“I worked in four different ramen shops [in Japan], and three of them made their own noodles,” Pursley said. Making his own noodles has given him the freedom to create the exact dishes he wants.
Tsukemen, which comprises cold, rinsed thick noodles topped with pork shoulder chashu, menma, scallion and nori, are served in one dish along with a bowl of warm broth flavored with dried Hokkaido scallops. Everything about this dish is delicious, from the thick and chewy tsukemen noodles, to the play on temperature with cold noodles and the hot broth, to the action of dipping noodles.
For the mazemen, they use the tsukemen noodles, which get much of their flavor from one of Menya Rui’s housemade aromatic oils; for the mazemen, it’s either a scallop oil or their chile oil, which is flavored with orange peel, ginger, garlic, Sichuan peppercorn and cinnamon. The chile oil is a recipe Pursley got from one of the chefs he apprenticed under during a three-year stint in Japan, where he learned how to make ramen.
There are three ramen dishes on the menu that use a thinner ramen noodle: a chicken shoyu flavored with an aromatic chicken oil; a tantanmen flavored with chile oil and sesame paste and topped with ground pork; and pork shoyu flavored with rendered fatback and onion oil, making it deeply savory and addictive.
For appetizers, look for cucumbers pickled in rice vinegar and irresistibly crunchy karaage, or Japanese fried chicken, served with lemon and kewpie mayo dusted with togarashi. On the beverage side, once they obtain a liquor license, look for beer, wine and sake. To start, Menya Rui will be open Thursday to Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m., but expanded days and lunch hours may be soon to follow.
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