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Cult-favorite ramen pop-up Noodle in a Haystack is going brick and mortar in the Inner Richmond

Cult-favorite ramen pop-up Noodle in a Haystack is going brick and mortar in the Inner Richmond
Photo: Noodle in a Haystack
By Marie Edinger - Published on May 06, 2022.

The restaurant is called Noodle in a Haystack, and its name could double as a joke about how hard it would be to find an equivalent craftsman of ramen. This isn’t a quick place you’d stop in for a lunch bowl; it’s an intimate and refined tasting experience centered around ramen.

The owners are Clint Tan, a San Francisco native, and Yoko Tan, who is from Tokyo, where the two met 13 years ago. They moved back to the Bay Area and ran a ramen pop-up out of their Daly City kitchen for half a decade. And eventually, the self-taught chefs started hosting people in their house to serve up their ramen. But they wanted something more.

As they worked from their home, they spent that time saving up money and getting some help from their parents and a Kickstarter campaign. 335 backers pledged $109,088 total, though $10,000 of that came from one person. 

The restaurant is in the Richmond District, right at the interaction of Geary Boulevard and 10th Avenue, on the southwest corner.

“We were adamant about it being in a neighborhood that had meaning to us, and sure enough this space is located on a street I frequented daily after class while attending George Washington High school,” Clint wrote. “It never ceases to surprise me at how full circle this has come for our family and this little pop-up that started off on a whim.” 

The space used to house Konomama, a Japanese curry joint. The new restaurant owners are in the process of redoing the floors, refurnishing the kitchen, repainting the walls, equipping a Pi-water filter, and installing a custom bar counter.  

This won’t be your typical ramen bar, however. Rather than grabbing a bowl for $15, the owners are offering a tasting menu with five to seven courses per night. There will only be two seating times per evening, three to four days per week, with a maximum of 12 guests total per seating.

The $100-$125 experience takes you through the “art of ramen,” as the Chronicle reports. That menu includes different dishes that celebrate the various individual elements of ramen, like ramen tare (sauce) with crab dashi poured over uni-topped tofu. A deviled ramen egg will serve as the opener, and dessert will feature things like stuffed Japanese pancakes called dorayaki and a Japanese shaved ice called kakigori.

KQED reports that the style of ramen served as the main course at Noodle in a Haystack will change each month. Those will even include custom-made noodles that correspond to different styles and broths.

The restaurant hopes to open in August or September, but says it may wind up being slightly later.