If you’ve been anticipating the arrival of Daikaya's cold hiyashi ramen, you’ll have to wait a little longer. One of the key ingredients has been held up by the Food and Drug Administration en route from Japan.
No, Daikaya isn’t importing anything exotic or illicit. Co-Owner Daisuke Utagawa says the missing ingredient is part of the tare—a sauce used to give ramen broth its flavor—that was custom-made for Daikaya by Nishiyama Seimen Company, which also produces the restaurant’s noodles. The product, created to Daikaya’s own recipe, is composed of spices, garlic, and other ingredients Utagawa would prefer to keep proprietary. “It’s not like Indonesian black poisonous nut,” he assures. “By the way, that is delicious stuff.”
Utagawa isn’t sure about the exact reason for the holdup, but he suspects it may have to do with the fact that the product was uniquely made for Daikaya. “I’m guessing because it’s a new item they wanted to check it,” he says. He further hypothesizes: “It could be that it is part of the routine that they randomly pull stuff, I don’t know… Like at the airport, they pull random luggage, and they want to look at it.”
Daikaya planned to debut two chilled noodle dishes at the end of June, but the ingredients have been stalled for at least two weeks. One of the dishes is hiyashi ramen with boiled-and-chilled-to-order noodles, citrus soy vinaigrette, cucumber, simmered bamboo, leeks, blanched bean sprouts tossed with sesame oil, wood ear mushrooms, shredded cabbage, roasted pork slices, corn, cherry tomato, ramen egg, nori, and carrots. The other bowl is the same except with a spicy sesame vinaigrette instead of citrus soy. The FDA just released the tare for the first bowl, but the ingredients for the spicy sesame dish are still stuck.
Utagawa hopes to have at least one of the cold ramen bowls on the menu by next week, even if the other is still in the hands of the government. “Listen, my wife is saying, ‘When do we have it? When do we have it?' And you know when the wife wants something, until they get it, there’s no rest,” Utagawa says. “I want it.”
Photo by Brian Oh