The long-awaited new Shoki Ramen House, in the former Trails Restaurant space at 2530 21st St., started offering sneak peeks of its menu to neighborhood residents this week. We hitched a ride in with one of those neighbors on Friday, April 8.
The new Shoki, which will extend its soft opening to the public starting at 5 p.m. April 13, features an open kitchen of abundant stainless steel but otherwise looks much like Trails did. Chef/owner Yasushi Ueyama and his wife, Kathy, tried to keep as much of the original decor as possible from Trails, the Western-themed restaurant opened by movie and swimming star Esther Williams and her husband in 1952.
They kept the yards and yards of wood paneling, which Kathy Ueyama said underwent several scrubbings. But they could not salvage Trails’ distinctive cowboy wallpaper.
The concept of the 21st Street Shoki will be build-your-own bowl, from broth upward.
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On Friday, we basically re-created our favorite selection from Shoki’s R Street location, the “tan tan men.” We started with broth, and added “thick” noodles (which offered the perfect amount of chew, just like on R Street) and spicy minced beef and vegetables.
The thick noodles are just one of several starches available. Diners can add rice or thinner noodles or go rice- and noodle-free.
We also sampled one of the noodle salads Yasushi Ueyama plans to introduce to the new place. It tasted bright and fresh and then pleasingly fermented.
Menus will vary during the soft opening period, Kathy Ueyama said. On Friday, build-your-own ramen (with up to three toppings) and a special beer brewed by Ruhstaller for this Shoki location (it tasted a bit like Asahi, but with a more rounded finish) went for $15. The soup with a soft drink was $10.
For information on the new Shoki Ramen House, call 916-454-2411.