While ramen is becoming trendier in South Florida, chef Takeshi Kamioka says he grew up eating this Japanese staple daily. His fascination with the dish and cooking began when he was a teenager; his family moved to the states from Japan and opened up three Japanese restaurants in Broward County. “I learned traditional Japanese cooking methods and recipes, but as I got older, I began to think outside of the box and add my own modern twist to things,” he recalls.
Kamioka was also part of the team that brought the upscale Nobu to South Beach. But after working for his family and the buzzy outpost, he went on to open his own restaurants: Shizen on Las Olas, followed by Gaysha New World Sushi Bar in Wilton Manors. At the latter, he started to incorporate some cooked items onto his menu, most notably ramen, which steadily became a sought-after soup. In addition, he hosted ramen pop-ups at Laser Wolf as part of the monthly FatVillage Art Walk.
In 2017, Kamioka sold Gaysha and teamed up with partner Melody Navarrete to launch Kaminari Ramen, which means “lightning” in Japanese. “Melody and I took some time off, traveled locally, and spent some time in Japan,” says Kamioka. “We had both been to Japan before, but this time we had a new purpose: to learn even more about ramen.”
Ramen enthusiasts can now find Kamioka and Navarrete at local hot spots such as LauderAle Brewery, Laser Wolf, and Broski Ciderworks, working out of their trailer, which they bought during the pandemic, to deliver hot, fresh ramen as well as other hand-held items and gyoza. (They previously worked out of a tent for two and a half years.) Their best seller is the Tonkotsu ramen, a slow-cooked pork ramen broth loaded with fresh egg noodles and topped with braised pork belly, soft-boiled marinated egg, boiled bean sprouts, hand-cut scallions, pickled ginger, naruto (cured fish cake), and sesame seeds. There’s also miso Tantan and vegetarian broths. Another must-try is Yakisoba, which translates to “fried noodles.”
“What makes me happiest about serving food is providing the type of food that I love to eat as well as showcasing some traditional Japanese foods I grew up eating,” says Kamioka. “Some foods are made with a fusion twist, but what I take the most pride in is the traditional items.” Check out Kaminari Ramen’s social media channels to find where they will be headed next.