Kinton Ramen intends to open six restaurants in the U.S. by the end of this year.
Kinton Ramen, the crowd-favorite Toronto-based ramen shop with more than thirty locations across Canada, Korea, and Japan, touches down in the United States today with its first location inside Chicago’s Fulton Market.
Given that so many ramen brands have already opened up locations in the U.S., Kinton founder James Hyunsoo Kim says he believes it’s broth that will set his brand apart from the competition. For the four styles of pork broth––original, shoyu, miso, and spicy garlic––pork bones are cooked for over twenty hours, and with chicken, the same process applies. “Our broth is very traditional,” Kim says, “We’re making what you had when you were a child that your mom or grandma made for you.”
Fulton Market diners will also have the opportunity to try Kinton’s beloved karaage ramen, which features a decadent serving of deep fried chicken in pork broth, every day of the week instead of just on Mondays, as is the case in the Toronto locations. Although the menu at Fulton Market will be identical to those in Canada, Kim says he’s looking forward to exposing American diners to relatively unexpected toppings like swiss cheese, an especially popular option ramen shops in Japan, as well as more commonly found add-ons like sweet corn and bean sprouts.
At the bar, Kim looks forward to getting creative with Japanese cocktails, like a matcha-colada (think: rum, coconut, matcha). “America has many more choices of Japanese whisky and rum that we couldn’t find in Canada,” he says.
Perhaps most importantly, this opening marks the beginning of a rapid American expansion for the restaurant chain, which has already selected and began construction on locations in Lincoln Park and Wicker Park, and is now eyeing Chicago’s suburbs. In July, Kim says the team intends to open their first east coast location in Central Valley’s Woodbury Common. By the end of the year, Kinton aims to have six locations nationwide, with more expansion planned for 2020.
“We want to share an amazing bowl of ramen with everybody, so coming to America, it means so much to me personally and professionally,” Kim says.