Celebrate the Ramen Phenomenon Tonight at IKEA

Photo by Mai Pham
The $3 ramen at IKEA probably won't be quite as fancy as Soma's ramen, but it'll definitely be delish!
Tonight, IKEA will become much more than a storehouse for chic, inexpensive Swedish home goods.

Tonight, IKEA will be the Iron Chef kitchen.

Well, not the Iron Chef kitchen, but an Iron Chef-style throwdown will be happening in the upstairs kitchen at IKEA, and the theme is ramen.

Foodie PR maven Dutch Small and IKEA have gathered sous chefs from six of Houston's top restaurants to create what they're calling The Great Ramen Challenge 2013. The goal is for chefs to create the perfect bowl of ramen, but in keeping with IKEA's economical and egalitarian ideals, there is a catch.

The chefs have no more than $3 to spend per bowl of ramen, and they have limited tools to use in preparation. Think cooking for college kids. You've got $3, a hot plate, a pot, some knives and a spoon. Now what?

According to the participating chefs, you can still make some mean ramen under those parameters. I caught up with Lyle Bento of Underbelly, Michael Castillo of Uchi, Jordan Economy of Bar Boheme, Jean-Philippe Gaston of Cove, Patrick Hart of Eatsie Boys and Cyrus Caclini of Kata Robata to see what they've got in store for the competition.

Photo by Kropsoq
The event is more than just an evening of revelry, competition and yummy ramen; it's all for a good cause. Small tells me that in recognition of IKEA's "design for the masses" value set, the mega store is making a $6,000 donation to the Houston Food Bank in honor of the event.

Golden Ramen Trophies will also be given out to the top dishes as chosen by the crowd and the panel of judges. The judges include Katharine Shilcutt of Houstonia Magazine; Eric Sandler of CultureMap; Syd Kearney of the Houston Chronicle; Taylor Byrne-Dodge of MyTable; Carla Valencia of 002; Michelle Avina of PaperCity; Darla Guillen of Eater; food critic (and frequent EOW contributor) Mai Pham; Sarah Pepper with HOT 95-7; Ja'Nel Witt, winner of the most recent season of Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen; and Paula Murphy, who will be representing the Food Bank.

Each chef will have ten minutes to present his ramen to the crowd and judges, after which the dishes will be judged. The chefs' creations will be scored on a set of criteria including taste, ease of preparation, presentation, and excellence in either reinvention or tradition.

Continue reading to see what the chefs have to say about the process of creating ramen recipes and what to expect from the competition.

Location Info



7810 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX

Category: General

Kata Robata Sushi & Grill

3600 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Boheme Cafe & Wine Bar

307 Fairview, Houston, TX

Category: Music


1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


904 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


2502 Algerian Way, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Eatsie Boys

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Brandon Scholl
Brandon Scholl

Looks like they're not accepting any more registrations. Bummer.

KaitlinS topcommenter

@bianca.ricalo Oh geez, that should be in the story, huh? It's starts at 7 p.m., but people with reservations are encouraged to get there around 5:30, because they're expecting a big crowd.

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