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Our favourite restaurant of the week: Street-style eatery Ramenhead is here

If you’re in the city and a lover of noodles, Ramenhead is the perfect street-style restaurant for you

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By Yashna Balwanth | December 9, 2022 | Travel Leisure

Ramen lovers of Cape Town are in for a treat as they slurp handmade noodles and tip back bowfuls of authentic broth with their new ramen house, Ramenhead. Officially opening to the public on the 13th December 2022 in the heart of the city centre, this powerful chef duo consisting of Peter Tempelhoff and Ashley Moss are here to create the ultimate ramen experience. They are being joined by chef Julia du Toit who currently heads up Beyond restaurant to make this an unstoppable trio.

For Ashley, the opening of Ramenhead is yet another chapter in a long-held fascination with Japanese culture that started in his childhood. “I checked out a book on Japanese writing from the library at my Kommetjie primary school when I was a kid,” he says. “I became interested in the culture and watched Japanese anime all the time. I’ve tried to learn all I can about the country, including the language, and this last trip gave me a lot of insights into ramen’s origins and the various regional styles.”

The chefs behind this menu, Peter Tempelhoff, Julia du Toit and Ashley Moss, Photograph: Andy Lund

When Peter talks about the ramen, he shares “That delicate balance of ingredients — bone nutrients, lean proteins and amino acids— working together give ramen its umami, making it highly addictive and creating a feeling of euphoria. Ashley has that very technical side to him, so the ramen will be as authentic as possible,” he adds. “Ultimately, ramen should be fast, cheap, filling, restorative and fun, and we will bring all those components into play for a Cape Town audience.”

In addition to several different ramen offerings, including classic pork broth, pork-free chicken broth and vegetarian broth, as well as seasonal variations and frequent specials, Ramenhead offers both traditional and gluten-free noodles. The menu also features Japanese snacks like fried chicken karaage and gyoza dumplings and a curated selection of wines, beers and cocktails.

A spicy kale salad, prawns, chicken skin, crispy garlic and ponzu dressing, Photograph: Andy Lund

Peter mentions, ‘As with our other restaurants, Studio A’s Tristan du Plessis has conceptualised the design. He has taken traditional elements of Japanese design and injected a fun and eclectic feel into the space. Using the ancient shou sugi ban method to charr and preserve our wood, you’ll see blackened panels of oak along the walls as well as a display of crafted ramen bowls by 7 local designers (7 being a lucky number in Japanese culture).’

‘You’ll see kanji (Chinese characters) spelling out a few characteristic Japanese phrases, graphic anime-style posters by Jade Clara, a drop of noren curtains as you enter and quite possibly some anime or J-pop cast across a TV screen. To keep it cool and casual, we’ve done away with bookings as well as any set order of food arrival…so you might be slurping up your ramen when your snacks arrive.’

The interior space is able to perfectly mix old and new within the space, Photograph: Andy Lund

The interiors of Ramenhead reflect its cool and vibey, yet casual and playful approach with indoor and outdoor seating along with a perfect view into the kitchen, allowing patrons to watch each bowl being assembled to perfection including the ultimate noodle lab, creating only the best ramen for their customers. This type of forward thinking came from Ashley & Peter’s 10-day ramen-tasting odyssey taken through Osaka and Tokyo in which they gathered various ramen styles and techniques to inform and inspire their new venture.

The street-food-inspired eatery will be open for lunch and dinner daily except Sundays and Mondays and will not take reservations, much like its counterparts in Japan.

Shoyu ramen is on the menu, Photograph: Andy Lund
The entrance to Ramenhead features original parts to the building structure, Photograph: Andy Lund