Organizers had told the chefs to plan on about 350 people, but they were blown away by the crowd that attended last night's so called "Ramen-Off" competition, where local chefs vied for the title of best noodle soup. They might have guessed they were on to something when David Chang, famed chef of Momofuku and editor of the newly launched Lucky Peach magazine (the first issue of which was devoted to ramen), tweeted about the event.
Kenji Okumura explained that his parents live in Japan and when disaster struck, he was left wondering what he could do to help. Thankfully, his family was safe. He considered doing the entire event himself, cooking up hundreds of bowls of ramen solo. Lucky for him, other tastemakers were motivated and got involved.
[jump] Chefs from Meritage, Masu, Moto-i, the Dakota, and Create Catering competed. Andrew Zimmern, Brian "B.T." Turner, Dena Alspach, and Jason DeRusha served as judges.
Tim McKee and Alex Chase of Masu served bowl after bowl, having to call the restaurant for some added supplies as the rest of the entrants began to run out of food as early as an hour and a half after the event began. Fulton beer also eventually ran out of supplies, exclaiming that while they expected a lot of people, they were still overwhelmed.
Guests performed karaoke from Bjork to Bon Jovi as revelers waited for the announcement of the winner. That honor went to Moto-i. Its "dry" entry included the fresh noodles topped with caramelized wood-ear mushrooms, pickled onions, dashi, green onions, zippy chile oil, and a perfectly poached egg, which acted as a sauce.
The real winner was Second Harvest of Japan. Early estimates put the number of bowls served at around 700.