A popular Japanese ramen chain is planning to open its first U.S. location this month in Bellevue.
Kukai was lured to the same shopping plaza which houses Szechuan Chef by a pair of local businessmen from Turkey and Taiwan. Nuri Ayindel, a development manager at a food distribution company, and Brandon Ting, a grocery store manager, used to meet every Wednesday to trade entrepreneurial ideas.
"Then one day Brandon had the ramen idea," Ayindel says. "We did a lot of research and found a great franchise in Japan. Their food is amazing."
"At first they didn't seem very interested," Ayindel says of early overtures to the company. "After a visit in Japan, they understood that we were serious and became more interested. It has been a great collaboration since then."
Ayindel and Ting are hosting the company's president and head chef on a Bellevue visit this week.
"We have done some test runs and the all the ramens were very delicious," Ayindel says. "It took us awhile to perfect the dishes but we succeeded. Ramen is a science more than anything."
While Ayindel didn't know much about ramen when Ting suggested it as a possible business venture, he says he's since learned how desperately it's desired by local noodle fans.
"I've been made aware of that," he says.
The restaurant is aiming for a late November or early December opening.