"That's why I opened a place with my favorite food," he said.
He named the restaurant Kippo after a favorite samurai of his childhood. A bold red logo of a warrior is used in the restaurant.
In addition to ramen, Kippo offers sushi rolls, sashimi, gyoza and more.
"We are starting with a humble menu," Okiebisu said. "We want to make sure the customer is happy. Then we're going to offer different types of ramen."
Scene & Décor: The neutral setting looks like many other casual, streamlined restaurants with a concrete floor, exposed ductwork and bare wood tables with stools. There are several booths if you can snag one. Bright spots include an orange-outlined open kitchen area and a bold red samurai stencil on one of the walls.
Local chefs from Sushi Pop, Seito & Baoery compete against one another for the best ramen at Ramen Rumble. All proceeds from the event were donated to the charity of the winner's choice.
Appetizers: There are a half-dozen sushi rolls on the menu that would make a good introduction to a meal, but we went for the salmon sashimi ($3.99) — and it was a good move. Two plump pieces of fish were draped over a small mound of noodles and accompanied by the usual accouterments: a dollop of wasabi, ribbons of ginger and soy sauce. We also liked the gyoza ($3.50), four bronze dumplings pinched around a generous plug of pork filling. The seaweed salad ($1.99) is a tiny portion but was bright and crisp.
Entrees: Ramen rules here. We ordered two of the most popular bowls, our server told us. Visually, the tonkotsu ramen ($11.99) was an unappealing turbid soup. But one slurp revealed a well-curated, rich pork broth with thin noodles, tender slices of pork chashu, sticks of bamboo, green onions, wood-ear mushrooms and a welcome half of a soft egg. Another tonkotsu dish ($11.99) features black garlic oil in the mix. The spicy miso ramen ($13.99) was a success with pork chashu, corn, bean sprouts, spinach, a half egg and wavy noodles in a well-tended broth with just enough heat. Our server offered to push up the spicy quotient if we wanted. We liked it just the way it was.
Drinks: Sodas and teas are available as well as several beers, including Japanese brands. Kippo devotes a whole page of its menu to sakes by the glass, shot, or bottles and cans.
Service: We had the sweetest servers. They stopped by our table often to see how we were doing.
Dessert: Ice cream is a great way to balance the savory flavors. You can get a scoop, an ice-cream sandwich or mochi, a chilled confection that has a gelatinous texture. The ice cream sandwich ($4.99) was a fun, delicious treat. A thin, crisp waffle was wrapped around a block of ice cream (we chose green tea) and cut into four pieces. The red-bean mochi ice cream ($2.50) was flavorful, but it had a very stretchy consistency.