An essential ramen shop that consistently draws crowds in both Los Angeles and the Bay Area has finally made its way to San Diego where it’s scheduled to emerge on Tuesday, August 8 at Westfield UTC in the space next to Raised by Wolves. This is just the fifth location in the U.S. for Ramen Nagi, which was founded in Japan in 2004 and operates multiple outposts in Tokyo, including in Shinjuku’s legendary Golden Gai district.
Master ramen chef Satoshi Ikuta, who will be in San Diego for the opening, trained at several acclaimed hakata-style ramen shops before launching Ramen Nagi as an itinerant pop-up; the brand now has nearly 40 restaurants that are mostly located in Asia.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, its menu offers five ramen flavors that range from classics to the untraditional. Pork-based tonkotsu broth — the calling card of the hakata style — is the basis for the Original King, which showcases the shop’s handmade noodles and pork chashu. The Red King features miso minced pork and a base spiced with garlic, chili oil, and cayenne pepper, while the Black King is enriched with black garlic and squid ink. The Green King adds fresh basil, parmesan, and olive oil to the tonkotsu broth and the Veggie King is a vegan version made with mushroom and cauliflower soup and topped with hashed potato “chashu,” shiitake mushrooms, and spinach.
Each bowl can be customized with diner preferences: choose from thin or thick noodles and how you like them cooked, from extra soft to extra firm, and specify everything from concentration of salt to broth richness.
The restaurant is also known for its Limited King, or special edition ramen. Available only for the first week of the San Diego shop’s tenure will be the La Jolla King, a chef Ikuta-created bowl that incorporates tonkotsu broth, chili con carne, and yuzu hot sauce and garnishes with bell peppers, onions, and cheese.
In addition, the UTC store will have appetizers and sides like gyoza, karaage, edamame, and chashu rice.
Ramen Nagi. 4545 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego. Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.