Their Story Begins at Midnight. Every Friday and Saturday night starting late at 11:00 pm until 3:00 am, the restaurant at Anaya Sushi is turned to be a Ramen House. They serve varieties of authentic Japanese Ramen. The ramen broth is simmered for 10 hours.
We decided to interview Soraya Kaoroptham of Midnight Ramen because she is women chef with big dreams and yummy noodles to match.
**English is Soraya’s second language so we we have made translation adjustments but the spirt of the answers are the same.**
Q. It seems that you have two restaurants at Anaya Sushi/Midnight Ramen. Tell us how you manage the dual life as a sushi restaurant and a ramen restaurant?
A. When I first brewed up the idea of opening up Midnight Ramen, I kept in mind that it will be a big commitment (since I would) literally work from morning until another early morning. On the weekends when the two nights weekly, Midnight Ramen will be going on from 11 PM till 3 AM in the morning. Luckily, I have always been an insomniac, so doing so currently isn’t really a challenge for me. The concept of just opening Midnight Ramen during 2 weekend nights was also a big help. I don’t know how I would manage it if it were open till late night daily. I am also blessed to have a fantastic manager that runs the full ship during the day.
Making ramen itself is actually a big commitment that requires a full days dedication.
Q. Did your background influence your love for ramen?
A. I have always love noodles–anything noodles. It is my go to comfort food since I was a kid. There are so many noodle hawkers in my home country, Indonesia. My dad is a karate teacher; teaching the traditional Japanese karate. I also use to be surrounded with Japanese culture from time to time because the karate masters from Japan would visit my dad’s karate organization. My dad always taught me the very lesson of Japanese philosophy: that doing the same things over and over again is the only way to perfection. In traditional Japanese karate, the black belt holders are still practicing the basic moves over and over again as does the white belt holder. This applies to the concept of ramen and many aspects of Japanese culinary. Repetition leads to perfection. You also must be concentrating in one area that you master the best. That’s why now I am kind of narrowing down my paths.
Q. Is it hard to be a woman chef in the male dominated food industry? Is it hard to be a woman chef in the male dominated food industry?
A. Yes! There are always dogmatism to a male being the ramen chef and stigmatism to a female being the ramen chef. It all about endurance.
My advice to give to other women that wanted to be ramen chef is to endure it with passion. Most ramen lovers are people who embrace warmths, warmed over a steaming bowl of noodles, a bowl represent comforts and warmths. There are thousands and millions of ways to create ramen. Be creative, yet, honor the old tradition, and keep it simple and embrace the very basic philosophy of Japanese tradition of repetition. Keep perfecting the broths. Ramen is all about the broth and the noodles, the tear is just the icing on the cake. Master those two to a perfection.
Q. Your restaurant is located in Connecticut; currently our 1.0 version app is NYC-based, do you think your restaurant will expand to NYC anytime soon? Would you be interested to be featured in our 2.0 version?
A. It has always been my dream to open a ramen shop in the city, particularly opening up Midnight thing– like the very basic idea of Midnight Ramen. If the opportunity is given, yes it is a possibility. It will probably start with a Midnight Ramen pop-up kind of thing.
Yes, I am very much interested to be featured in your 2.0 version.
Q. What is your favorite ramen broth/topping? What makes it better than the others?
A. My favorite ramen broth is what’s called ‘10-Hours Broth’, it’s basically a chicken paitan and shaves bonito based, infused with a 3-way garlic, aromatic garlic oil, baked garlic cloves, and lastly, black garlic oil drizzled.
My favorite topping is my tender chashu brisket. Back when I started Midnight Ramen in 2015, I didn’t see any ramen joint putting a tender simmered brisket as toppings. I like to see it as a unique signature.
Q. If you weren’t a chef in ramen, what would your next option be?
A. I would happily settle down being a full time mommy.
Q. Can you share something funny/quirky/funny about yourself? Our users would like to get to know you.
A: One night, a few years ago, when I came back late in the morning (around 4am) from working at Midnight Ramen, I was so hungry so I made myself a quick meal at home. I was so tired that night, while eating, I literally fell asleep on top of a pillow of rice on my plate. My husband took a picture of me asleep on the plate of rice on my table. He told my kids to show the picture (in hopes of teaching my kids about perseverance.) They laughed so hard seeing the picture. I couldn’t believe I literally fell asleep like that in the middle of eating at 4 AM. That’s my memorable Midnight Ramen moment.
By Wendy Liu, Ramen Route App