Tsuta — the Tokyo-founded shop that was the first ramen-ya to receive a Michelin star — is gearing up to open an NYC outpost later this summer. The restaurant will be part of a new single-story commercial development in Dumbo, at 20 Old Fulton Street, and will be located adjacent to another hit Japanese transplant, an outpost of the coffee shop %Arabica.
The restaurant was initially slated to open toward the end of June, but due to the continued uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tsuta team is now anticipating a late summer opening, co-owner of New York operations Alan Lo tells Eater.
The New York outpost marks the second U.S. location for the ramen shop, which first debuted in San Francisco back in October 2019. That location initially saw long lines similar to the ones seen outside the original Tokyo location, but in subsequent months, the popularity had died down, according to San Francisco Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho, who reviewed the establishment in January 2020. She didn’t particularly enjoy the food either, writing that the SF outpost “just comes off like some celebrity’s offspring trying to get free drinks by name-dropping his dad.”
Still, the Tsuta team maintains that the outpost was popular until they were forced to shutdown due to the pandemic in March 2020. The San Francisco location has been closed since that time, and Brian Chua, the CEO of Tsuta Global, tells Eater that there are no plans to reopen it until indoor dining capacity returns to 100 percent in the Bay Area. The same holds true in NYC, says Lo, and both argue that the way Tsuta prepares its ramen is not ideal for takeout, even though the restaurant will offer it, and did so at the SF outpost as well before the March shutdown.
All of the favorites will be available at the NYC outpost, including chef Yuki Onishi’s signature soy-sauce based shoyu broth made with clam shells and dashi that’s topped with black truffle oil; the salt-based shio broth served with white truffle oil; and the miso broth with porcini mushroom oil. The ramen typically comes with sliced pork belly and leeks, among other ingredients, and Tsuta makes all of its noodles in-house using different types of wheat. At the NYC outpost, Thua says the team also plans to introduce a vegetarian ramen, but said it was too early to share details on the ingredients of the dish. Similar to the West Coast location — the original Tokyo outpost doesn’t serve sides — the Brooklyn location will also have sides like ro-su chashu, a roasted pork dish served with a butter sauce, and fried chicken served with Japanese mayo.
The Dumbo location, which is part of a new commercial development by Avdoo Partners, will seat 40 people inside at full capacity along with about 15 people outdoors, according to Lo. Tsuta is hoping to open at least one more NYC location, and Lo says that a further expansion on the East Coast, including a potential launch in Canada, could happen based on how the NYC debut goes. Tsuta had previously planned a major West Coast expansion but the pandemic halted those plans, and Thua says there are no plans to continue that expansion just yet.
Tsuta opened as a nine-seat shop in Tokyo back in 2012, and became the first ramen restaurant to receive a Michelin star in 2015. The ramen shop has since gone on a major expansion push with new locations opening in Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The original Tsuta closed in 2019 and reopened in a new location in early 2020. Now, Tsuta is poised for another expansion on the East Coast.
While NYC is no stranger to Japanese ramen imports — Tonchin, Ichiran, and E.A.K. Ramen are among them — Tsuta’s focus on shoyu ramen separates it from most of the city’s ramen-yas serving tonkotsu broth — though Tsuta does have the rich pork-based soup base option as well. “We are really excited about bringing high quality shoyu ramen to NYC,” says Lo. Stay tuned for more details as Tsuta gets close to opening in NYC.
UPDATE: this story has been updated with new information on Tsuta’s takeout program.