A new ramen restaurant is set to open within shouting distance of Sacramento’s popular Ryujin Ramen House, located near the intersection of 19th and S streets.
Called Raijin Ramen House and expected to open in July, it will replace the now-closed Izakaya Daikoku at 1901 S Street.
Restaurateur Sai Wong, who ran Izakaya Daikoku, owns both Ryujin and Raijin. He said the new place is “going to be a different style (of ramen). More spicy. More fire.”
While the ramen-house names may sound similar, they have different meanings in Japanese mythology. Ryüjin is a dragon god of the sea; Raijin is the god of lightning, thunder and storms.
“I love ramen,” said Wong, who opened his first restaurant on Broadway in 1993. Over the years, his restaurants – which have included Edokko, New Edokko and Akebono – have gravitated more toward sushi, a Sacramento favorite. But ramen has taken off, Wong said. Lines of people waiting for tables are a common sight at Ryujin.
Wong said he was once such a fan of ramen that a Japanese newspaper once wrote about him eating 400 bowls in a year. He can’t eat like that anymore, he said, but he’s always looking for menu ideas when he travels to San Francisco, Los Angeles or Japan. His iPhone is filled with photo after photo of different ramens.
“I make ramen, and I take pictures,” Wong said.
Opening less than a year ago, Wong’s Izakaya Daikoku aimed to expand Sacramentans’ view of Japanese pub food. Its expansive, 10-page menu included items such as yakitori (skewered and grilled foods) and karaage (bite-sized fried chicken). The restaurant also offered a wide array of sake.
“I tried to introduce people to this kind of food and this kind of sake,” Wong said.
Wong said the restaurant, in a space formerly occupied by Sweetwater Restaurant and Bar, was doing well, but the business model wasn’t for him. He said he worried about people overconsuming sake.
On Saturday, a sign in the restaurant’s window and a message on its answering machine said the restaurant was temporarily closed.
The new restaurant won’t exclusively serve ramen, Wong said. It also will feature okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake that was a mainstay on Izakaya Daikoku’s menu.