Meet your merchant: Former classmates become joint owners of Ramen on Main Street
Ramen on Main St.
106 East Main Street, Grass Valley
Hours: noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Friday
Noon to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday
Food available to go
Korapin Phantanome, better known as “Nana,” and Duangthida Sahatrangseekul, affectionately known as “Poo,” met at UC Davis while studying English as a Second Language in 1999.
Both natives of Thailand, the two hit it off right away and decided to become roommates. This led to a long-lasting friendship, which has since become a business partnership. Today, the busy duo co-own Ramen on Main Street in Grass Valley.
Last year, Nana was working in a Los Angeles restaurant when she got a call from Poo, who needed someone to manage Ramen on Main Street. Business was booming, and Poo was also spreading her time among three other restaurants, — all named Taste of Thai — located in Davis, Sacramento and just up the street in Grass Valley.
Nana discovered she liked the small town feel of Grass Valley and the proximity to her mother and brother, who also live in Northern California. So when the opportunity arose to become a co-owner of Ramen on Main Street with her long-time friend, it was an easy decision.
“I love being able to take my dog hiking along the Yuba River,” said Nana. “But at first I was surprised to work in a small town where some people had never had ramen before.”
Ramen, which are quick-cooking noodles typically served in a broth with meat and vegetables, became an easy sell to those who were willing to give it a try. And once in the door, customers also discovered the broad range of choices on the menu.
Popular dishes include Spicy Thai-style Tom Yum, which is flavored with extra large shrimp, mushrooms and scallions; Chicken Miso Ramen, chicken broth blended with miso and garlic paste, chicken, menma (a condiment made from lacto-fermented bamboo shoots), black mushrooms, bean sprouts, scallions, corn and nori (dried seaweed); Buta Kakuni Ramen, rich pork broth flavored with soy sauce and topped with house-roasted pork belly stew, menma, spinach, bean sprouts and corn; Vegetarian Shoyu Ramen, vegetable broth or soy milk flavored with slightly sweet soy sauce, corn, cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, spinach, shiitake mushrooms and scallions.
“Portions are big,” said Nana, with a smile. “The average customer ends up taking leftovers home.”
Several customer favorites that are not served every day do not show up on the regular menu, such as the Japanese-style curry plate and beef teriyaki. Regulars know to ask.
While young children love the noodles, teenagers have discovered the boba, or bubble tea — typically made with tea, milk, sugar and chewy tapioca balls — a trendy drink that is hard to find in Nevada County. Many young people come in regularly and simply order one to go, Nana added.
Alcoholic drinks on tap include Lagunitas IPA, Asahi, Sapporo, Trumer Pils and hard cider.
But customers are advised not to leave before trying a specialty dessert, such as the “Mango Tango,” which is made with sticky rice, fresh mango slices, mango ice cream (or other flavors) and topped with essence of Butterfly-pea flower tea, giving it a natural bluish tint.
“I encourage people who have never been here to come in and try something new,” said Nana. “Expand your horizons. It’s 2019 — we are a global society now. I love the fact that our regular customers have become friends. When it comes to this work, I do it because I love it.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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