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Last Friday, I became overwhelmed with anxiety and could not maintain my focus. I began breaking down. I felt less than human. I was done.

Then I began to feel feverish, out of place and emotionally-spiraling out of control. I stopped believing. The dream was over.

Mentally, I have been emotional before but I’ve always remained strong. Thankful for my past, it takes a lot to be broken. A lot has happened.

Writing about this may not be the best thing, but I only write this so that future me can remember where we came from. I hope you are enjoying the future. Please share any good details in the comments.

The fever climbed to 101F. So I canceled the weekend and got tested for covid-19. Five days later I received a message saying “F SARS CoV 2 RNA NOT DETECTED”. Needless to say, I was relieved.

But the damage had already been done.

Weeks of declining sales and mounting pressures to continually pivot and reassess my business have finally taken its toll. For I am not alone nor young nor dumb. I know when it’s time to say stop.

I’ve gotten quite good at failure in recent years and making people sad. Yes it sucks. I’m sorry. I’m just not cut out for this anymore. I don’t want to be the best. Just better.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your support. You have given me a reason to keep trying my best. But there is a lot more than just what we see here now–lost business, a failed sale, an inadvertent promise, a false hope. There is always a deeper meaning.

Retail ramen kits were an immense joy, full of stimulating challenges and creative hurdles. But they were not the soul-saving answer to my impending doom. They were a means to pass time and feed the hungry. With great sadness, I have decided to quit the retail ramen kit game. So for now, there will be no more. Once again, I thank you for being there for me. Once again, I truly am sorry.

Off to the future.

The pandemic

It is now September. In the year 2020. How did we get here? Or more like how did we make it here? Five months. 5 months. Since it all began.

I’ve tried to stay optimistic, but yeah this isn’t my 20’s nor my 30’s anymore. A lot is at stake. A lot is at bay. A lot is in fray. A lot is just…

A LOT!

I strive for balance. Not only in ramen but also in life. It is what allows me to take the steps I need to take. The path I need to pave. The barriers I need to break.

But for five months, 5 months, the balance has been at tilt. A pin without a ball.

It is difficult to make decisions when you cannot foresee the future. Or more-so when you see a future that you cannot wish to foresee.

Is this how it’s going to be? Been on the run. Chasing my heart. Watching it break in front of me?

Help is just a helping hand away. Perhaps another five months. 5 months. For help to be my hand.

Hang in there. Don’t give up. Don’t hang there. Give it up.

This float is ours to boat.

The illusions

Every day, I feel…like giving up. The honesty. The truth. Everyday, I give it my all. The passion. The faith.

Today, I rest. The battle wounds can attest. Today, I am the best. I aced the final test.

Officially back

January 16, 2020. I’ve been very lucky in life. Driven by mostly emotions that involve soup and noodles, I’ve met a lot of friends (and some I haven’t met yet) who have been able to pick me up when I was down. I’ve also seen those not-really-friends that have tried to ride the waves only to crash against the reef. But for the most part I have been truly blessed to be where I am. Many people might think it’s strange that Ramen Shack is popping up in Tomiz when it could easily have its own shop, but I’ve always been one to look a handful of moves ahead and working with a company like Tomiz is a huge honor.

After soft open I got a chance to fully understand my position here. And it somehow lit the fire again. Instead of going through the motions and doing what is deemed enough, I pushed a little harder. Cuz when you go harder, the next big thing will get a little easier.

After all, what is Ramen Shack without a B-side? Prep was tough but the only way I can teach someone else to do it is to do the hard work myself. Full immersion feeds dedication and respect.

A bigger menu means better setup. I thought about this for days but this is definitely where experience leads. The patience of a seasoned doctor commanding his operating table.

Even when something goes wrong we find a quick solution. My former bosses would be proud.

Alright, time to eat. Thank you for coming to opening day. I got many messages from friends and colleagues around the globe. I’m back. And it will only get better.

Soft open and strong close

Wow. That was a roller coaster ride. Short-staffed from the get-go, we all had to put our experience to the test. Thankfully, this team was solid!

And wow. It was a rough week for me. But seeing all the love from the ramen community easily made up for it.

Very very thankful for many of you showing so much love. Shack wouldn’t have made it here without you.

This Future bowl came from a special place in my history and was really more about testing my love for an old school chuukasoba, the type of ramen that gave birth to my passion.

On the last day I had to remind everyone that no matter how dirty our future gets, it will still taste good in the end.

Now that I am comfortable and know that this team is capable of greatness, it’s time to get crazy. Are you ready? The evolution of ramen shack just caught fire…again

It’s time to show my family what it’s like to go for the gold. See you on Thursday January 16th for a taste of old and what’s to come. Ramen Shack Forever.

A change of menu

Why? Why would you change the menu when it worked so well before?

I don’t know. I think I just needed a good challenge. It’s been ten years. Perhaps it was time to self-measure my skills.

I don’t care anything about that! I just want The Quiet Storm! The Sunset Red! The Tonkotsu Tan Tan!!

I am not the greatest ramen chef that ever lived. I don’t want to be. I just want to be at peace with my quest. Recently, someone told me that they think I am living life the way everyone should. Honestly? I think I am too honest. My hopes and dreams are clouded. I am not really what I am. I am you. Stressed. Happy. Blessed. Angry. Just wanting to do what I’ve wanted to do since the age of 5.

Back to the menu. This Future broth is just a piece of me. I feel that it is the answer to shift American’s feelings from Tonkotsu to Shoyu. A path leading ahead, as slanted as the toppings might point. But who am I to shift a nation?

This menu is my heart and soul. My last hope. My reason for trying it again. My path ahead to the future. My legacy to you.

The glamour

This week I’ve been prepping past midnight almost every night. There are challenges in trying to prep for ramen during a certain window. Normally, a ramen shop may not open for lunch because they are prepping all morning and afternoon for dinner service. With the kitchen being occupied in the morning this option is non existent. And we still haven’t opened yet.

I tested my miso ramen today. Although it looks ok I won’t be putting it on the menu tomorrow. There are some definite flaws that I’m not happy about. I have been feeling a little under the weather today (perhaps from lack of sleep and plenty of stress) so it’s quite possible my sense of taste has just gone haywire. I’ll give it another go tomorrow.

But for now, soft open will happen tomorrow with a very limited (one ramen) menu. Even the eggs may not be ready because I kinda fudged those up too. Don’t ask. It’s been rough today.

Well at least just one item will mean for a smoother start to the soft open. But it’s almost midnight and still another two hours from getting home. Losing steam. Losing motivation. This is the glamour.

Future Chuukasoba

Looks can be deceiving. I think this will be the final version for soft open. Though this bowl can easily do without toppings, I will try to keep it as simple as possible. There is a reason for everything.

Now I will dream about the miso. Still need to figure that out tomorrow.