Atlanta Orders In: Kin No Tori Ramen aims for continuous improvement

Shoyu miso ramen features vegetable broth, bean sprout, kale, bamboo shoots, fried onion, sweet corn, scallions and shrimp topping from Kin No Tori Ramen.
Caption
Shoyu miso ramen features vegetable broth, bean sprout, kale, bamboo shoots, fried onion, sweet corn, scallions and shrimp topping from Kin No Tori Ramen.

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Kin No Tori Ramen Bar opened at Midtown Place on Ponce de Leon Avenue in February, just a few weeks before the pandemic shut down dining rooms in Atlanta.

The restaurant, from Sean Kim and the partners behind Alpharetta’s Ramen Bar by Hajime, immediately switched to takeout service when restrictions were imposed in March.

Since then, it’s been a struggle to navigate the rules and regulations, Kim said. But, recently, the team decided it was time to reopen for limited dine-in service — though that meant just four tables, with a maximum of six people per table, and a total of 16 people inside.

Kin No Tori Ramen takeout is packaged in separate containers and comes with instructions for reheating.
Caption
Kin No Tori Ramen takeout is packaged in separate containers and comes with instructions for reheating.

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

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“I’m good. Just trying to survive another day,” Kim said last week. “It’s very dramatic, right now. We’ve implemented everything we can think of to keep everybody safe. But, we never even had a chance to do a grand opening. And, when this thing hit, it just created an uncertainty. So, I don’t think people really know who we are yet. It’s like we had to open all over again.”

Kim said the return of dine-in service has hurt takeout service, though the bottom line hasn’t changed much. Current sales are only 25%-30% of normal sales, he said.

Despite the struggles, Kim is proud of the restaurant (calling it his “second child”) and the team behind Kin No Tori.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with fried garlic and scallions.from Kin No Tori Ramen.
Caption
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with fried garlic and scallions.from Kin No Tori Ramen.

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

“We have three people who are chefs, so, combined, our experience in Japanese cuisine is probably close to 80 years,” he said. “And, we are very passionate about this food.”

Kin No Tori specializes in chicken broth-based ramen, which is cooked for 8-10 hours, Kim said. All the sauces are made in-house and added to order. And, many dishes are enhanced with wok-fired vegetables.

“I think seasoning is the key,” he said. “That’s what makes the flavor so good, when you cook it right then, when you order it.”

Besides four chicken soups, with a range from mild to spicy, and a choice of fried or grilled chicken toppings, the menu also has seafood ramen and vegetarian ramen bowls. And, there are many options to add additional toppings, such as chashu pork, shrimp or fish cakes, fried tofu, seasoned egg and shiitake mushrooms.

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Kin No Tori also offers rice bowls, and a long list of appetizers, including crispy Brussels sprouts, chicken or vegetable dumplings, steamed buns and Japanese fried chicken.

“We really put a lot of thought into the menu, not only about how we were going to make things taste, but how we were going to make things consistent,” Kim said. “I think that’s the key. Being able to come back here 10 years from now, and eat the ramen, and have it taste exactly the same.

Okonomiyaki Japanese pancake with cabbage, onion, carrot, and shrimp.
Courtesy of Bob Townsend
Caption
Okonomiyaki Japanese pancake with cabbage, onion, carrot, and shrimp. Courtesy of Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

“But, in Japanese, we have this word, kaizen, which means continuous improvement. You can always improve. That’s the mindset we have put in here. So, we’re going to make it better. And, we’re going to make it through this.”

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KIN NO TORI RAMEN

Menu: a la carte for takeout or limited dine-in, with chicken, seafood or vegetable ramen, plus add-ons and appetizers

Alcohol: soft drinks only

What I ordered: shoyu miso ramen, with battered shrimp; okonomiyaki Japanese pancake; crispy Brussels sprouts; pork buns; shiitake mushroom buns. The ramen was the best part of the meal, and I particularly was impressed with the flavor of the vegetable broth and the fresh flavor of the vegetables. I also liked the way the broth, the noodles and vegetables, and the shrimp came in separate containers, with instructions for reheating. The appetizers all were good, and traveled pretty well, too, though the shiitake mushroom buns stood out.

Service options: order via website and pay with credit card for takeout curbside pickup; walk up for on-site dining

Safety protocols: adhering to all recommended health and safety guidelines

Address, phone: 650 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta; 470-312-2964

Hours: 11:30 a.m-3 p.m., 4:30-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Fridays-Sundays

Website: kinnotoriramen.com