What is Hapa Ramen without a @linecook? It was recently announced on 3/28 that Richie Nakano, chef and founder of Hapa Ramen, has been fired and is no longer with the company. A day after the announcement, Nakano tweets that many cooks, servers and bartenders from Hapa were also out of work. On 3/30, the entire website was taken down. The future of what's to come for Hapa Ramen is unclear, however articles citing the owners indicate that a new vision is in the works.
Regardless of what really happened or who said what, it's sad news to hear and impacts all of the people who have been rooting for Hapa Ramen and Richie Nakano's success. It's only been four months since Hapa Ramen opened up for business in the Mission and it's already gone. Inside Scoop SF has all the details you need to know about what went down.
I have many fond memories of Hapa Ramen. In September 2010, Patrick and I went on a date to one of Hapa Ramen's early pop-ups at Bar Tartine, where we had our very first fight; I always look back at our fights and laugh about them. We've been rooting for Nakano and Hapa Ramen since and it's really just unfortunate how things turn out sometimes.
A couple of months ago, I went to dinner at Hapa Ramen's Mission location with my friends Ben of Focus:Snap:Eat, Sandy of Foodhoe and Christina of East Bay Dish. The restaurant had soul, delicious food and awesome music. At the time of dinner, I remember chatting with Christina about how proud we both were of Nakano's accomplishments.
This review doesn't really matter anymore given the change of direction for the restaurant, but here's a look at the dishes we tried during Nakano's reign.
The bar had an impressive spirits collection with a heavy emphasis on Japanese whiskey.
The kitchen in action.
Six Pork Dumplings in Warm Sanbaizu & Spicy Oil
The pork dumplings are small in size with a remarkably delicate skin, served in a Japanese seasoned vinegar sauce with spicy oil.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Steamed Buns
I fell in love with the buttermilk fried chicken steamed buns, served with bread and butter pickles and hot sauce. The chicken was moist and crispy. The buns were incredibly soft and pillow-like. I could easily eat a plate of these alone.
General Tso's Beef Cheeks, Crispy Pig Ears, Oyster Mushrooms & Tender Kale
The tender beef cheeks and crispy pig ears were tossed in a sauce that resembled something we've all tasted before at a regular Chinese restaurant. The flavor profiles were on the vinegary and acidic side, maybe a shaoxing wine based sauce is my best guess.
Lightly Cured Kanpachi
My favorite dish of the evening - thick slices of gorgeously marbled fish served with various rich seafood components: chilled dungeness crab, uni sauce, trout roe and a umami crisp. How can you go wrong?
Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Cara Cara, Smoked Enoki, Egg Yolk & Sherry Vinaigrette
A vegetable dish that's hard to resist - bright, acidic, and satisfying.
"Tonkotsu" Chicken Ramen
[Featured Photo] A rich and clean ramen broth consisting of a chicken thigh grilled over embers, hon shimeji (mushrooms) and thin yuzu noodles that added a bright citrus note to the bowl. Hapa's chicken ramen is not typically what I would personally go for when I am craving for ramen, but it was comforting and delicious.
Crisp Pineapple Cake & Teriyaki Pineapple Sorbet
We ended our meal with the only dessert option on the menu. An extremely dense, rich and buttery pineapple cake dressed in a teriyaki-like sauce that reminds me of a burnt caramel. You get sweet, bitter, and a taste of refreshing pineapple sorbet all in one bite. I wasn't feeling the bitterness of the teriyaki sauce and could have easily enjoyed the cake and sorbet alone.
Goodbye, Hapa Ramen.