Ramen fans, mark your calendars for August 5, the date of Hokkaido Ramen Santouka’s arrival in the University Village shopping mall. The Japan-based sensation is finishing its build-out in the central mall corridor across from Glassy Baby.
The interior of the U Village location will celebrate the restaurant’s Hokkaido roots by incorporating cultural elements of the region’s indigenous Ainu people. And the restaurant will show off the fruits of a new partnership with Microsoft and a Japanese system development company: a robot that greets customers and gathers data about menu preferences before offering suggestions.
The menu focuses on tonkotsu broth, which is traditional to Japan’s Hokkaido region and made by boiling pork bones for 20 hours. Diners then select flavor options like salt (shio), soy sauce (shoyu), fermented soy bean paste (miso), or spicy miso (karamiso). Bowls are finished with a heap of wavy noodles and ingredients like vegetables, dried fish, kelp, and, should you order the shio version, a pickled red plum.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka opened its first free-standing restaurant in the U.S. in Bellevue in April 2014. It’s been well-received, including earning a spot on Eater’s list of Eight Elite Ramen Restaurants.
The U Village’s dining options are increasingly attractive, thanks to a new Rachel’s Ginger Beer outpost with a menu of fried chicken sandwiches from Ma’ono, and a forthcoming Ba Bar location aiming to open later this month.