Yoko-San Ramen launched Jan. 6 in the Boulevard Shoppes near Costco on Naples Boulevard in North Naples. The new casual lunch and dinner restaurant features ramen and rice bowls, appetizers, boba tea and sake in the recently renovated former space of Hurricane Grill & Wings, which permanently closed last fall after operating its Naples franchise for 14 years.
Yoko-San, which is a Japanese female name that means the sun, is the third restaurant in North Naples for Chef John and On Augsondthung. They also operate the adjacent Fuji Sushi Bar & Asian Bistro as well as Araya Sushi Asian Grill on Immokalee Road. The married couple also plans to open a second Fuji location around Feb. 1 in The Pointe at Founders Square at Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard in North Naples.
The menu for Yoko-San focuses on eight varieties of ramen, a popular Japanese noodle soup served in large bowls with ladle spoons and chopsticks. The restaurant’s signature ramen is Yoko-San Tonkotsu, a base of pork bone broth and thin noodles topped with braised pork, fermented bamboo shoots, a seasoned boiled egg, wood ear mushrooms, bean sprouts, bok choy, corn, black garlic oil, seaweed, scallions and a Naruto fish cake. A spicy version also is available as well as variations with miso or soy sauce broths and chicken, pork belly or tofu.
Donburi, a Japanese rice bowl dish, is another entrée option consisting of chicken, pork, steak or tofu simmered with vegetables and other ingredients and served over jasmine rice. Appetizers include spicy chicken or pork belly buns, cucumber salad, edamame and housemade gyoza, Japanese potstickers or dumplings that are steamed or pan-fried.
The long bar at the former Hurricane Grill was converted into a sake bar for Yoko-San, which will have happy hour every afternoon. Draft beer and house wines will be available starting next week with hot and cold sake options.
The most popular beverage at Yoko-San, though, probably is its boba tea, known also as bubble tea because of its base of tapioca balls. Originating in Taiwan, the milk tea features flavors such as brown sugar, mango, matcha, strawberry and taro.
To learn how to prepare authentic ramen, John Augsondthung attended a ramen cooking school in Thailand, from which the couple hails, and he later trained with master ramen consultant and chef Kenichi Ota, who traveled from California to help the couple launch Yoko-San. “So, he learned a lot of techniques and secret ingredients to make it very authentic,” On Augsondthung said.
To prepare the signature dish, the Augsondthungs imported a $30,000 ramen pressure cooker from Japan. Tightly sealing in flavor, the 500-pound, stainless-steel machine can prepare 300 bowls of creamy ramen broth in an hour. “It’s very special equipment for ramen only,” Augsondthung said.
Yoko-San and Fuji operate from opposite ends of an outdoor patio beneath a pergola in the center of the two buildings for Boulevard Shoppes. “Customers can sit at the patio and order sushi from Fuji and ramen from Yoko-San and enjoy it on the patio,” she said.
Yoko-San Ramen, 6345 Naples Blvd., is open noon to 9 p.m. daily. For more information go to YokoSanRamen.com.