Chef Vu Le knows what you're thinking when someone mentions ramen.
"A lot of times, it brings up memories of youth or college years," Le said, mentioning the "cheap, packaged ramen that takes less than three minutes to make from bag to bowl."
"Ours ... takes a little over 48 hours from start to finish," he said.
Though Chow Yum Phat just opened last month, it is already making a name for itself with its sticky wings, pork and beef bao buns, pho and, yes, ramen. For this installment of Let's Dish, Le and chef Jordan Ramirez show us how they make Chow Yum Phat's Ronin's Ramen — a bowl of noodles so good that you'll sop it up, no matter the weather.
STEP 1: Chicken and pork bones from Iverstine Farms, secret spices and aromatics are simmered overnight for at least 14 hours and poured into a bowl. Pork belly (sous vide for extra tenderness) and Ajitama (marinated eggs dropped in a soy and mini base) are also marinated overnight.
STEP 2: Upon getting an order at the restaurant, a mixture of shiitake and wood ear mushrooms are sautéed first with garlic. Then, the mushrooms are hit with soy sauce and sesame oil near the end.
STEP 3: When assembling the bowl, tare (soy basting sauce with dashi and aromatics) goes in first to give the broth added depth. Noodles and broth are added.
STEP 4: Then come the other toppings: the sous vide pork belly, which gets an extra smoke and char from the blowtorch; the sautéed mushrooms; and the precisely-cooked Atijima.
STEP 5: The bowl is topped off with mayu (blackened garlic oil), enoki mushrooms and scallions.
The key to Chow Yum Phat is paying homage to tradition, then presenting the twist.
The name of Vu Le's restaurant is a tip of the hat to one of the all-time great Hong Kong action-movie stars, Chow Yun-Fat, who starred in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and a number of movies from director John Woo. Phat is also Le's nickname.
Le grew up in New Orleans. As a child, he started cooking with his mother, and the menu featured everything from po-boys to fried rice. To this day, his mother continues to be his biggest influence.
After developing and honing his skills as a chef at Tsunami in downtown Baton Rouge, he jumped at the chance to open his own concept at White Star Market.
"Our concept started out with a pop-up mentality," Le said of Chow Yum Phat. "With the way White Star Market is set up, there's no need for us to change that."
At the Government Street food hall, Le can add weekly specials to his already set menu that has patrons slurping and smiling. Sure, you can try some baos, pho or ramen, but Le doesn't want it to be like any other chef or restaurant's version.
"Our goal is to bridge the gap between different Asian food and what's currently available here in Baton Rouge," he said. "At the same time, we're doing it our way."
CHOW YUM PHAT
WHERE: Located inside White Star Market at 4624 Government St.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
— Matthew Sigur contributed to this story.