New Ramen Restaurant
Florence is a city known for its excellent food, from pizza decorated with basil, to fresh handmade pasta and enough gelato to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. The only culinary trouble one may run into is a lack of diversity. Frustrated with the absence of authentic and well-executed Japanese food in Florence, the owners of Koto Ramen (via Verdi 42) decided to offer something different. Their dedication to quality and authenticity is what sets this new restaurant apart.
The four partners of this fresh take on food in Florence, Mattias and Matia, two young marketing specialists who have a passion for Ramen, combined with Dinah Lee, Mattias’ wife, and Mattias’ sister Antonia, wished to introduce high-quality Japanese food to the people of Florence. Their head chef, Shoji, lived in Japan as a child and has “lived” a life of ramen ever since.
Koto Ramen (open from 7 pm until all 120 orders of ramen are distributed, serves big and smaller bowls of this traditional Japanese soup, as well as a variety of appetizers. A favorite is the edamame, seasoned with paprika and black salt, a lighter start to the meal that will ensure diners enough room for the main course. Guests can enjoy their food with hot sake or a variety of drink accompaniments, ranging from beer to Sho-Chu (a Japanese drink served neat or with water).
The star of this new restaurant though, is surely the ramen. This soup, offered in five varieties and served in wooden bowls imported from Japan, is the product of hard work and dedication. Koto buys local vegetables and meat products, and imports the Asian ingredients that aren’t found in Florence. From as early to 10 am, the chefs work tirelessly to transform each ingredient into an integral part of the dish.
When asked what ramen is, Matia describes it as “broth and noodles” but it is truly so much more. Each ingredient, from the marinated celeriac to the chashu pork, is treated differently and with great detail. The noodles themselves, delicious and done perfectly, take three days to prepare.
Once all the ingredients are ready, they are joined by either meat or vegetable broth, a perfect marriage of flavors. From the first spoonful to the last, guests will be transported to a culinary arena vastly different from typical Italian offerings. Koto’s dedication to quality and authenticity sets it apart.
Koto offers meat and non-meat options, from the simple yet tasty vegetable ramen, complete with a beautifully marinated egg, to pork and beef options, soup lovers will find something that works for them.
The restaurant, a perfect stage for this new style of cuisine in Florence, is full of youth. The style is inspired by the Japanese take on industrialism and combines the clean aesthetic of wood and metal with traditional Japanese art.
Koto Ramen has been packed every evening, so the owners have decided on a system of handing out numbers to determine the order of service. This allows guests to simply take a number and go get a drink or explore the nearby shops while waiting.
Since their inauguration in mid-January, Koto has received such positive feedback that they intend to expand to Rome and other cities in Italy. The restaurant also will be offering take away bento boxes for lunch once the new kitchen staff gets adjusted, hopefully in the next month or so. The owners plan to debut Chinese hot pot nights twice a month.
From the popular Gyoza appetizer (pork and cabbage dumplings) to their Matcha Cake for dessert, Koto Ramen offers something new from start to finish. (annikka oelhafen)