Discover the story behind Wokyo’s Ramen Festival, which will take place from 7th – 9th December 2017!
Sapporo Ramen Festival at Wokyo Noodle Bar
Wokyo in cluster J is where Tokyo meets Dubai and the noodle bar has fast become one of our neighbourhood’s most popular restaurants. Wokyo was also a popular choice in the recently held inaugural JLT Restaurant Awards where they were awarded second place in the “Best Chinese”, “Best South East Asian”, and “Best Street Food” categories.
If you’re keeping an eye on our social media pages, you might have seen that, from 7th – 9th December 2017, Wokyo hosts a Sapporo Ramen Festival. If that sounds like your thing, you can find out more here. We recently met up with the Wokyo folks to find out more about the story behind the festival:
In 2016, Tokyo TV was visiting Dubai and looking to feature the most popular noodle destinations in the city. They came across Wokyo and visited the restaurant with their production team and a number of renowned Japanese noodle masters and Ramen specialists – among them Chef Saeki-San, who introduced the Wokyo team to Sapporo-style ramen. Sapporo-style ramen is different from the classic Japanese ramen, because it’s prepared in a wok. The broth and the toppings are cooked together in the wok, which gives the ramen its roasted and sizzling flavour. Chef Saeki San ignited the team’s curiosity for Sapporo-style ramen and they decided to learn everything there is to know about this delicious dish and eventually added ramen to Wokyo’s regular menu.
The Tokyo TV feature made a big impact in Japan and a few months after it first aired, Wokyo welcomed more visitors from Japan. This time, a representative from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, and Master Ramen Chef Ishida-San. Who had seen Wokyo featured on TV and decided to pay them a visit. Chef Ishida was very impressed by Wokyo, which reminded him of the casual Sapporo-style Ramen yokocho ally in Tokyo. So impressed was Chef Ishida that he decided to invite the Wokyo team to Sapporo to learn more, get inspired, and experience true Sapporo-style Ramen under his personal care.
For the Wokyo team, this was the opportunity of a lifetime and they were not going to miss it, so last summer, the team flew out to Japan, stopping over in Bangkok and Hong Kong on the way to check out the latest noodle trends in the vibrant Kaosan Street in Bangkok and the trendy Soho Street in Hong Kong, before arriving in the famous Gonza Ramen Alley in Sapporo.
In Sapporo, the Wokyo team received training in the art of Ramen at the headquarter of Nishiyama, Japan’s biggest Ramen noodle manufacturer.
Chef Ishida also took the team to his local Sapporo Ramen restaurant, away from the tourist attractions, where he first started his training as a young student 40 years ago. He shared stories about his travels to Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe, and the United States of America opening hundreds of Ramen shops and spreading the love of Sapporo ramen to the world. He explained how Ramen is deeply rooted in their culture, taught in Japans’ Hokkaido region schools, and even served as daily school meals. A Ramen cooked by their spouses and mothers is deeply appreciated like no other food.
Chef Ishida proudly offered the Ramen the Wokyo team made to the Nishiyama factory workers. A tense moment! Would they like it? As the team’s hearts pounded, they soon heard the word “Ummai! Ummai!” chanted loudly as the workers finished their Ramen. “Ummai!”, which means “delicious” in Japanese, is chanted loudly to make sure the chef hears it to show their appreciation for the delicious ramen being eaten.
Fast-forward a few more months and Wokyo is extremely excited to serve the most original and delicious Sapporo Ramen ever served in the UAE to its customers from 7th December 2017 onward. To mark this occasion, Wokyo has organized a Sapporo Ramen Festival, which will run from 7th – 9th December and will see Chef Ishida visit Wokyo in JLT to prepare Sapporo-style Ramen together with Wokyo’s chefs. Expect good company, good music, Origami, Japanese calligraphy, and, of course, great Ramen! You can find out more about the event on Wokyo’s Facebook page or on the JLT Dining page.