Popular East Side ramen bar boils up brand-new Japanese dining concept
Less than a year after opening, Ramen Bar at Cherrity Bar is no more, but fans of the East Side eatery shouldn’t despair. Former operations manager Ernie Bradley has taken over the reigns to open a brand-new concept — and, no, the ramen isn’t going anywhere.
For the past five years, Bradley has been working with chef Michael Sohocki’s Gwendolyn Group, the former owner of Ramen Bar. His own project, Bradley says, was always at the back of his mind, but he “never had anything that made [him] want to take a leap of faith.” But, he says, Cherrity Bar’s altruistic model appealed to his sensibilities, so he decided to jump in.
The result is Kuriya, named for the Japanese word for kitchen, which first welcomed customers on December 4. While keeping the popular ramen, the new eatery focuses on izakaya-style dining, encourages customers to order four to five small plates while lingering over a cocktail or two.
“There are things that are familiar and some that are not,” says Bradley, noting that more dishes will be added to the lineup in the coming weeks. Currently, guests can try katsu sliders and several varieties of dumplings, including gyoza and shumai. He is looking into adding udon noodles and even more types of dim sum favorites, including soup dumplings and vegetarian mandu from Korea.
While many of the dishes are new, he is keeping the Gwendolyn Group’s standards, which include sourcing locally when possible and butchering his own whole hogs and chickens. Both will be showcased on Asian charcuterie boards that include seasonal pickles and meats like blood sausage and Chinese lap cheong sausage.
“Over the last five years, [Gwendolyn has] proven that [local sourcing] can be a viable business model,” Bradley says. He is especially proud to be able to support San Antonio-area farmers while maintaining a price point that prevents “wallet hangover.”
Unfortunately, a deli promised in the early planning stages of Cherrity is no longer on the table. Bradley says that the cost of renovating the space to accommodate commercial baking ovens was too cost prohibitive. Instead, the space will act as a prep kitchen that will service a catering operation.
Still, the new menu of pan-Asian treats, coupled with a stiff Old Fashioned, makes for one heck of a consolation prize.