Yesterday I had the privilege of getting an early sneak peak of SATO Ramen, the new ramen shop coming from Josh and Satomi Smith of Elmwood Ave’s SATO. We’ve been following the progress of this new University Heights restaurant for a while now and even chatted about it on our podcast back in April. The wait appears to be over, the team are expecting to open their doors for lunch and dinner later this week (fingers crossed for Thursday or Friday).
The first thing I noticed about the location was how much it felt like a truly traditional ramen shop. The restaurant has several tables in the middle of the dining room but the majority of the restaurant is bench seating. A long bar runs along their open kitchen and in front of the window are another six seats. We aren’t quite ramen experts, but we’ve visited a bunch of shops in Toronto and New York City and this looked and felt like a restaurant that could fit into either city. Plus, the wall art is fantastic.
The kitchen was up and running when I visited and I was able to sample a couple dishes that will be on their opening menu. If you are a SATO diehard, you’ll recognize several items from their Elmwood location, but they will also be offering a variety of new dishes (check out the menu below). To start, yes, they make their own noodles in house and they have a Community Beer Works collaboration Yuzu IPA on tap which is f***ing awesome and pairs with most of the dishes on the menu, especially ramen.
I was able to sample their karaage chicken (fried chicken) and pork gyoza (pan fried dumplings), two dishes that I’ve long enjoyed. The karaage was especially crisp and flavorful with pieces of tender dark meat. I also enoyed some Gyu-don, one of their rice bowls featuring shredded beef marinated in soy sauce topped with caramelized onions, a fried egg and pickled ginger. It has the potential to be something we order on every visit. Finally, was able to try their Buffalo Tori Ramen. I’ll admit I was initially skeptical…Buffalo-style chicken ramen? Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. The ramen includes spicy fried chicken served in a chicken broth with their house made noodles (I really enjoyed the texture and chew), corn and shredded carrot. It actually worked well and I really liked the spicy broth and chunks of crispy chicken (just eat them quickly, as the start to get soggy as they sit in the broth). If you are a ramen/noodle veteran, you’ll probably stick to the more traditional bowls of soup. But if you’re bringing along a friend who might be a little hesitant to try new things, this could definitely be something that interests them. The house-made noodles were impressive and I’m looking forward to trying them again in another style of broth (there are 6 options).
SATO Ramen hasn’t even opened their doors and there will probably be a few bumps along the way, but we are really excited to finally have a legitimate ramen-centric restaurant opening up in Buffalo. Chef Satomi has some serious skills in the kitchen and was incredibly impressive last year at Nickel City Chef, so I have a feeling this new restaurant will quickly become a favorite of many.