To his disbelief, Louis Grayson watched as customers slurped down hot soup on unbelievably hot days in the Florida summer at his new restaurant. Ramen Lab Eatery, opened by the 27-year-old Grayson in March 2017, held its own throughout the scorching months largely because of its scorching soups.
“You should have seen it,” he says. “I mean, I’m so thankful for it. They’re sitting outside having a bowl of ramen, and they’re sweating!”
As the firstborn son, Grayson says he has a responsibility to help his family. While he was working from home for Expedia in Washington, D.C., his family called and asked for help. They wanted him to bring something new to their restaurants, which include four Lemongrass spots, and after finishing in second place at a competition that would have won him a restaurant inside a trendy food hall, Grayson finally felt the strings pulling him into the food industry. So he opened Ramen Lab at the old Sushi Thai, a restaurant his mother owned for more than 16 years.
While Grayson and his family are Thai, his menu is inspired by what he likes to eat. He’s always dreamed of opening a poke shop, and he once had a Korean girlfriend who taught him about Korean dishes. So those things are on the menu, as are his grandmother’s gyoza; she comes into the restaurant every morning with her team of senior helpers to make them.
But the core of Ramen Lab is scratch-made Japanese ramen, a hearty noodle soup with a meatbased broth, wheat noodles, and vegetables and meat toppings. The shoyu ramen is the lightest ramen on the menu, Grayson says. While simple, its flavors are bold, multifaceted and satisfying. Animated slurping is 100-percent allowed.
Is your mouth watering for ramen? Louis shared his recipe for you to try at home:
- Ramen noodles (fresh or dried from your favorite Asian grocery store)
- 16 ounces of bamboo shoots
- 1 Egg
- Pork belly
- Chicken broth
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Chili oil
- Dried seawood
- Grill the pork belly and marinate it overnight in a mix of 5 cups of soy sauce and 5 tablespoons of sugar. Grayson likes to cut the pork into 1-inch pieces.
- Cook the fresh or dried noodles to your liking.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of chili oil, and 2 spoonfuls of soy sauce. Stir fry the bamboo shoots in the mix.
- Boil one egg for six minutes. Crack the shell and soak egg in a cup that is 70 percent water, 30 percent soy sauce.
- For the broth, mix 1 cup soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 5 teaspoons sesame oil, 4 teaspoons sugar, 2 tablespoons salt, 12½ teaspoons of garlic, 2 tablespoons of ginger, 4 teaspoons of hondashi. Pour mix into chicken broth and mix well.
- Pour the noodles, pork belly, bamboo shoots, and egg into the broth mix.
- Garnish the ramen with scallions and dried seaweed.