The independent bar and restaurant boom along Lorain Avenue in Ohio City just keeps on going. Soon, a Japanese-style noodle shop will join Platform Beer, The Grocery, Herb'n Twine, the Plum, Jack Flaps and Ohio City Provisions in that part of the neighborhood.
Owner Shuxin Liu, a cook of two years at Momocho, will open Xinji Noodle Bar (4211 Lorain Ave.), an ambitious farm-to-bowl eatery in a building being renovated by Doug Perkowski of Cleveland Lofts. When it opens in late March or April, the restaurant will specialize in Japanese-style ramen, Korean-style fried chicken, smoked chicken wings and steamed buns.
“Noodles are my favorite thing,” says Liu. “I’ve wanted to do a noodle bar for six years.”
Liu says that each week, he’ll bring in whole pigs to use for the meat, broth and side dishes. The fat-and-gelatin-rich pork broth will be supplemented with meat from the belly, shoulder and neck, noodles, and traditional accompaniments like soy egg, scallions, bamboo shoots and wood ear mushrooms. What’s not used for the ramen will be crafted into charcuterie-style appetizers.
In the beginning, the broths will be limited to pork, chicken and vegetarian, but Liu says he intends to expand into broths made with beef and lamb, as well as growing the noodle selection.
“In the beginning, we will be highly focused on ramen, but will branch out to Southeast Asian style noodle and Northern Chinese style noodle,” he says.
Also, he intends to expand the menu from just ramen, Korean-style fried chicken and steamed buns to include small entrée dishes as he grows the business.
The 100-seat restaurant will feature an open kitchen and seating in a small dining room, at the bar, and at window seats facing Lorain. The bar will focus mainly on beer and sake, but will offer a few wines as well.
Xinji, Liu explains, means “new opportunity,” and it’s one that the neighborhood likely can get behind. Future opportunities include a garage in the rear of the property that Liu intends to convert into a separate small eatery down the road.