Ramen is the star of the show at Ramen Champ, the hotly anticipated restaurant on the second floor of Chinatown’s Far East Plaza from Alvin Cailan, Johnny Lee, Nathan Asamoto and front of house partner Michael Sudjati. The iconic Japanese noodle soup fills steaming cauldrons in the open kitchen, and plays a prominent role on custom wallpaper from designer Mike Houston. The art could easily warrant an article of its own and comes from the Cannonball Press artist, who’s done some great work for “Lucky Peach.” Houston depicts characters from “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!,” several members of the animal kingdom, and some people you’re bound to see at Ramen Champ, but I digress.
Yes, the ramen, rice bowls and sides all packed good flavor even before opening night, but one thing I didn’t expect was a powerhouse punch. No, this punch doesn’t pack all that much punch. That’s because Ramen Champ is still working to wrangle a beer and wine license. However, the sour, well-spiced liquid pairs well with rich ramen. The purple drank arrives on the rocks, crafted with hibiscus, yuzu, lemon and lime juices, plus aromatics like cinnamon and clove, all drained before pouring. This drink is basically a complex, Japanese inspired Jamaica, and I could probably drink a gallon with my next Ramen Champ meal.