Ramen Bar brings noodles to campus


New restaurant at 40th and Locust promises traditional and authentic Japanese food


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Owner and chef Dean Leevongcharoen serves a bowl of noodles in his new restaurant, serving Japanese-style noodles and cuisine. Leevongcharoen, who grew up learning how to cook traditional Asian cuisine, said he wanted to open a ramen shop in University City.

Photo by Ellen Frierson


The noodles at Ramen Bar don’t come in plastic packaging or a foam cup.

The new Japanese noodle restaurant and bar located on 4040 Locust St., officially opened Tuesday night and promises to bring “authentic, exotic and affordable food” to University City, chef and owner Dean Leevongcharoen said.

“I wanted to open a ramen shop in a university city,” Leevongchareon said. “I think students will love having a ramen shop close by.” The bar, which will open once it obtains a liquor license, will serve drinks such as beer and sake.

Although the noodles aren’t made on site ­— they are brought in from a company in New Jersey — Leevongchareon insists that they are fresh and authentic.

“We use real Ramen broth,” he said. “We boil pork for over 20 hours to get the authentic taste.”

Ramen Bar also hopes to be an affordable spot for students. The appetizers and salads range from $4 to $9 while bowls of ramen and other entrees, like Japanese fried rice, range from $8 to $12.

Vegetarian ramen bowls and rice dishes are also available.

“We draw our menu from the roots of Japanese cuisine,” Leevongchareon said.

Growing up with his family’s restaurant business, Leevongchareon learned how to run Thai and Japanese restaurants and how to cook traditional Asian cuisine.

He also attributes his cooking skills to Koumei Nakamura, a friend and famous chef in Japan.

“The majority of our customers are students,” said waitress Vannida Lim, a Temple University junior. “They have been really excited about our opening.”

The restaurant features an open kitchen that faces a line of tables stretching from the entrance to the back wall. The walls are lined with pine wood and the floor with porcelain cement blocks.

“I designed it myself to be modern and hip but also earthy and natural,” Leevongchareon said.

Diners around campus are sampling the new restaurant and have good things to say.

Takema and Shoko Kato walked out of Ramen Bar impressed with their meal. Takema, a postdoctoral fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, has tried ramen at noodle restaurants across Philadelphia, including Nom Nom Ramen near 18th and Market streets and Terakawa Ramen on 9th and Race streets. For him, Ramen Bar trumps both older establishments in taste and authenticity.

“We come from Japan, so we notice it is very similar to Japanese cuisine.” Shoko Kato, a Penn research assistant, added.

Wharton senior Jackie Wang thinks the restaurant is a good addition to the selection of Asian food near campus. She enjoyed the Shoyu Ramen she ordered and believes Philadelphia had been lacking in the ramen scene.

“I think [Ramen Bar] will do very well,” she said.

“This caters to everyone’s palette,” said Jane Han, a first year Penn Dental student. “Especially in the winter, it’ll be awesome.”

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