This past Saturday, Jesse Mason and Helen Qin of Mason’s Creamery (4401 Bridge Ave., 216-245-8942, masonscreamery.com) fame hosted their first pop-up ramen night at the Ohio City-based ice cream shop. An ice cream parlor might not be the first place one thinks about visiting for a steaming-hot bowl of Japanese noodle soup, but it might soon be.
“We both love cooking, and not just ice cream,” Qin says about the genesis for this inaugural event. “Winter obviously is a lot slower, so we have the time, staff and space to do something like this.”
For their first non-dessert-themed pop-up, the sweets-loving couple went full-on savory, concocting one of their all-time favorite foods: tonkotsu ramen.
“We really love ramen,” notes Mason. “One of our favorite foods from L.A. is tonkotsu pork broth ramen and that’s kind of hard to find, so we’ve been making it at home. We thought we should offer it around here so people can know what it tastes like.”
“It’s like a really rich, fatty pork broth that’s almost sticky when you eat it,” adds Qin.
Loaded with fat, collagen and marrow, the pork bone broth is deeply flavored and almost buttery in consistency. The broth is prepared onsite in the ice cream shop’s commercial kitchen. Bowls were augmented with cha siu (roasted pork belly), soy-marinated soft-cooked eggs, enoki mushrooms, mayu (black garlic and sesame oil) and, of course, ramen noodles. Bowls went for $12 each.
Being the first of its kind for Qin and Mason, the two didn’t quite know what to expect in terms of response.
“It was very informal,” says Qin. “We weren’t sure how interested people would be so I just told people [on Facebook] to shoot me an email.”
About 25 people responded, she reports, but they ended up serving more than 40 bowls that night, having to turn away hopeful diners after selling out of product.
“It was jamming; pretty much everything we made sold out within the first two hours,” says Mason.
Mason’s Creamery has seating for only about a dozen guests, but thanks to benches, standing room and take-out, it all worked out, they report. For the next installment, the pair might devise a different system to guarantee spots and bowls.
“We just wanted to have a good time with it,” Qin says. “We’re not trying to open up a ramen shop.”
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for updates on the mid-February ramen pop-up.