The owner of Sea Thai Bistro and Sea Noodle Bar has paired up with popular sushi burrito food truck chef Takeshi Uchida to create Raku Ramen and Rolls in Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village. More than just a ramen shop, Shoubu Japanese’s Uchida has created a menu inspired by his sustainable vision for Japanese cuisine — and it’s something to write home about.
We first met Uchida 12 years ago when he was creating “secret sushi” at the Odd Fellows Hall several days a week. The former Hana Japanese sushi wunderkind has a deep passion for the food of his homeland, but in recent years significantly changed his diet and the menu he created for his food truck to use only sustainable fish, organic and GMO-free ingredients and generally re-envision some of the less-than-sustainable practices of some sushi spots.
With Sea Thai’s Chef Tony Ounpamornchai, the two have created a clean, minimalist fast-casual izakaya featuring tonkotsu (pork), shoyu and vegan ramen bowls ($15-$16) with high-quality ingredients, along with rice bowls and a small selection of rolls and salads. We loved the cloudy tonkotsu with braised pork belly and organic veggies, along with the Poke Don (wild-caught tuna with chili sesame soy, greens and spicy veganaise, $16). The raku roll includes crab, tuna, avocado and kaiware sprouts. Don’t miss the Zangi, Hokkaido style free-range chicken ($8), or the Veggie Miso Mabo Don, made with organic tofu, tempeh, eggplant and spicy bean sauce. ($12).
Lots of great vegan and vegetarian choices here, especially if you’re a stickler for high-quality ingredients.
We’d love to see even more exploration of Japanese favorites, including the return of Uchida’s sushi burritos, miso soup and homestyle classics we enjoyed on the Shoubu truck — which is now in retirement. Early Yelpers dinged the restaurant for high prices, but owners say they’ve dropped some prices and are now offering mini rice bowls for $5. We’re not stoked about the upcharge on ramen for things like nori, bamboo shoots and mushrooms, but it is not exactly out of line with the cost of organic ingredients.
Raku Ramen & Rolls: 2424 Midway Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-623-9668.