Josh Henderson's "sexy taco bar" concept Bar Noroeste has shuttered and will reopen after a refresh of the space as Kiki Ramen. Seattle Met broke the news last week.
Henderson tells Eater to expect the new restaurant to be ready by mid-Februrary, if not sooner. Though Noroeste's Pacific Northwest-influenced taqueria was well-received by critics, it seems the dinner-and-drinks-driven concept didn't fly with the daytime crowd of Amazon employees and the like.
"We're always looking to do what the neighborhood wants," Henderson says. "We felt this location was calling for lunch and a robust happy hour instead."
So why ramen? "We were serving a ramen at Quality Athletics that we felt was pretty good," Henderson says. "We also think it will work well in that neighborhood. There aren't a lot of noodles in that area. This concept seemed like kind of a lay-up. Plus, we all love ramen. My girlfriend, Kim, and I eat a ton of ramen together."
The space will undergo a few changes, like more booths and an overhead menu for quick lunchtime service.
Expect the concept to be "technique-driven," and "not cheffy." Don't expect coconut curry ramen, five-spice pork belly, or fried chicken ramen, Henderson says. Instead, he'll honor traditional styles like tonkotsu, shio, shoyu, and miso, without "overthinking it." Rounding out the menu will be okonomiyaki, edamame, and kimchi arancini.
Overall, Henderson says he "just wants to make solid ramen and appreciate traditions. My greatest fear is I don't want to be disrespectful to ramen culture. I want to do it justice and not overthink it. I want to focus on the basics and make it super tasty."
2016 was a big year for Henderson and his restaurant group Huxley Wallace Collective, which opened a slew of restaurants including Vestal, Scout, The Nest, Great State Burger, Saint Helens, Poulet Galore and Cantine. Bar Noroeste had been open since February.
Stay tuned as more details emerge.