As the fall weather begins to get chilly, a new ramen bar emerges just in time to warm us up.
Next Thursday, November 2nd, Chika Ramen Bar will open its doors to the public in Rittenhouse (at the lower level of 1526 Sansom Street). The 2,000 square feet restaurant that seats 48 diners is inspired by the 1982 cult sci-fi film Blade Runner, which featured an iconic noodle bar scene.
The Japanese word “chika” means basement/cellar/underground place, which helps promote the speakeasy vibe this new late night spot is attempting to achieve. Operated under Glu Hospitality, an Asian-owned restaurant group co-led by Tim Lu and Derek Gibbons, Chika Ramen Bar is trying to take diners on a futuristic voyage that influences food, drinks, and design.
“Working in NYC nightlife, we always ate at concepts in Chinatown or KTown after work,” Gibbons says. “It’s a missing concept in Center City. I wanted to bring something with life, creativity, and energy that I hadn’t seen in this market before — something slightly different. We have so much amazing food, drink, and concepts, but nothing quite like this.”
For the first time ever, Glu collaborated with BOXwood Architecture and Design (famous for designing hit restaurants such as K’Far, Goldie, Tuna Bar, Tredici, and others) to create a “cyber punk style” for the restaurant.
“Of the concepts we presented, the option that was best received drew inspiration from the cyberpunk style,” says John Weckerly, partner at BoxWood Architects. “The space is especially unique considering the ‘sub street level’ access. This condition led to further conversations about scenes from the movie Blade Runner, where many interactions took place in eateries and at night.”
Weckerly mentioned that “combining the spirit” of Blade Runner scenes alongside the cyberpunk details “became the focus.”
“To that end, we tied the ramen culinary aspect into the design by marrying the Cyberpunk style, Blade Runner and the urban dynamic of Tokyo, to include; neon lighting, metals, mirrors, reflections, and graffiti,” he added.
The cuisine at Chika is traditional ramen dishes with Japanese bites prepared by Dean Leevongcharoen, a 12-year chef who was trained in Japan and formerly owned a ramen shop of his own until 2022. Diners can expect to try their signature hakata style “tonkotsu” (pork bone broth boiled over 24 hours) noodle soup topped with marinated chashu pork, shiitake, menma, red pickled ginger, sesame, scallions and drizzled with roasted garlic oil (served with straight noodles). There’s also Japanese classics such as takoyaki, yakatori, edamame, seaweed salad, hand rolls, and more being served. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dining options are also available.
Chika has a full-service bar that’s led by Michael Ego, Glu’s director of Asian concepts. There’s sake, local and Japanese beer, wine, and eclectic cocktails such as their roy batty (white rum, strawberry sake, shisho, yuzu), electric dheep (Japanese gin, cherry blossom calpico, elderflower tonic, boba), and more human than human (shochu, fresh citrus, fresh ginger syrup, bubbles).
Chika Ramen Bar’s grand opening is next Thursday at 4 pm, with regular service on Mondays to Wednesdays at 4 pm to 10 pm (kitchen closes at 9 pm), Thursdays to Saturdays at 4 pm to 2 am (kitchen closes at 1 am), and Sundays from 4 pm to 9 pm (kitchen closes at 8 pm). It’s currently walk-in only (no reservations). Their full kitchen menu is available all day, with plans for a lunch and brunch menu to be released in the near future. For more information, their number is (215) 419-5847 and they can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.