Since opening last fall, Columbus Park Ramen Shop has served thousands of aromatic bowls of Japanese-inspired noodle soup to customers. Although ramen has been trending in cities across the U.S. for several years, Abbey-Jo and Josh Eans’ timing in Kansas City couldn’t have been better. Columbus Park wasn’t the first establishment in town to serve ramen, but it was the city’s first dedicated ramen shop, and certainly the first to get creative with it.
The Eans don’t aim to make ramen exactly like you’d find in Japan; rather, they appeal to their strengths, creating chef-driven takes that reflect the locally available ingredients they source from Kansas and Missouri. The chicken used both as a core protein and to make broth for the shoyu and kimchi ramens comes from locally raised, free-range Amish chickens, and local free-range eggs are sourced from Campo Lindo Farms. The restaurant’s heritage-breed pork is raised on farms in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.
“To us, there is a big difference between food that is authentic versus traditional,” Josh says. “Food is a living thing – it’s always moving, changing and growing. We are learning what it means to make ramen in Kansas City, and it shouldn’t taste like what you might have had in Japan or New York City. Because, to us, that wouldn’t be authentic.”
Columbus Park’s menu is small, with four types of ramen (tonkatsu, shoyu, kimchi and mushroom) and a small rotating pickled starter. It’s designed to quickly turn tables in the small, 350-square-foot shop with just about 20 seats.
Apart from their regular menu, the Eans have found ways to expand their creativity beyond ramen: As the weather warmed up this summer, Josh began experimenting with a cold green curry ramen, first adding soft-shell crab and then chilled shrimp. Josh plans to incorporate brothless noodles (mazeman) to the menu, as well as chilled, dressed noodles (hiyashi chuka). (Photo by Bonjwing Lee)
★ Last year, 4 Hands Brewing Co. in St. Louis collaborated with Josh Eans on a preserved lemon gose, which was released in June. The beer is made with fresh lemon verbena and lemon basil from Prairie Birthday Farm in Clay County, Missouri, and is available in 16-ounce cans.
Columbus Park Ramen Shop, columbusparkramenshop.com