It's a duo you might not have expected: Luke Reyes, former chef at the meat-centric Butchers & Barbers, has teamed up with Phillip Frankland Lee, chef-owner at Scratch Bar and the Gadarene Swine (which doesn't serve meat), to open a ramen bar called Oh Man! Ramen in the San Fernando Valley.

The ramen shop, which is expected to open in late summer, will be located next door to Scratch Bar inside a multilevel Encino strip mall. It will offer a 16-seat ramen bar and seating for 32 guests in the dining room. Much like Lee's other restaurants, Oh Man! Ramen will have an open kitchen and no servers, with the kitchen staff pulling double duty as the front-of-house crew. Ramen will be served for lunch and dinner, with plans for late-night hours in the works (always welcome in the Valley).

According to a press release, the ramen concept was conceived and developed by Reyes, who partnered with Lee as executive chef to open Oh Man! under the umbrella of his restaurant group. The chefs (who plan to travel to Japan soon for additional research) collaborated on the menu, which will feature a “whole animal” tonkotsu broth made using pigs sourced from Stepladder Ranch in Cambria and topped with pork belly and shoulder, bamboo shoots, green onion, soft egg, shiitake mushrooms and bonito flakes. You'll also find a veggie ramen made with roasted squash, braised black kale, charred garlic sauce, soft egg and sesame. They're even developing their own version of umami-rich “MSG” powder, which will be used to season the broth.  

Other items planned for the menu include red snapper crudo with white soy, tofu, charred tomato and onion ash; a crab dynamite play on the croque-monsieur,  topped with a fried egg; salted pork jowl and shrimp gyoza; and grilled salmon collar lettuce wraps with sesame-chili ponzu. There are plans for bottled classic cocktails created by Reyes, as well as beer and wine and an array of desserts from Scratch Bar pastry chef Margarita Lee, including Asian-inspired soft-serve.

Oh Man! Ramen, 16101 Ventura Blvd., Encino; OhManRamen.com.

LA Weekly