What Owning a Ramen Restaurant in Japan is Like


I am Kunimoto,
the owner of Mengokoro Kunimoto Have you ever dreamed of opening up
your own ramen shop? While most ramen-ya’s kitchen’s
are wide open to see, you may be surprised at all the work that
goes into owning a ramen store yourself. Ticket please. Please wait. Shio (salt) ramen While ramen is Japanese fast food,
it’s not a fast process to make. It takes time, dedication,
hard work, and knowledge. While he does buy his fresh noodles from
a men-ya (that means noodle store), most everything he makes is from scratch. Thanks for waiting, here you go.
Here you are. Thank you for waiting.
Here you go. What kind of hours does he work? 8am to 11:30pm, six days a week. And this is not the, I’m out of the house,
from 8am to 11:30pm, so I’m working all that time
even though I have breaks. This is non-stop hard work from when he
enters the shop until when he leaves. If you add it all up, and I did,
that’s an 80 (really 93) hour work week! My father used to own a Ramen restaurant. He used to be a salary man,
but he quit start his own restaurant. When I was a teenager,
I helped in the restaurant. At that time, making Ramen wasn’t what
I wanted to do with my life. It was just helping
and it was a part time job. I wanted to get out into the world
so I started to work as a sales man, but it was not for me and I came to realize that I wanted to create something and make people happy That’s what I wanted to do. I start working at 8:00AM.
I make fish broth everyday. And while I make the broth,
I also prepare eggs. Menya Musashi, No.1 Ramen restaurant
in Japan at that time, came to my mind, and I made a phone call to ask them to take me as an apprentice. I started at the Menya Musashi
Shinjuku main shop, I worked there for 4 1/2 years. Kunimoto’s restaurant has 4 main dishes. Of course they all contain ramen noodles, but they’re actually not
all the same thickness, nor are they prepared the same way. This is regular ramen. Each restaurant will have
their own take on the dish. Kunimoto’s version has a
flavourful broth with fatty pork. This is Shio ramen,
and shio stands for salt. It has a light broth and lean pork. The noodles used are thinner
than the regular ramen’s. – Large Shio (salt) ramen, here you are.
– Thank you very much for waiting. This is Noukou (thick) ramen. This one has a thick broth,
and you can really taste the fish. It also comes with plenty of onions. This last dish is Tsukemen. The broth and noodles are
separated in two different bowls. Its flavour is most similar to the
regular ramen, but it’s broth is richer. The noodles are cooled down,
and the water squeezed out. While the noodles are served cold,
the broth is hot. So you have a little break from
3:30pm to 5:00pm? I… don’t get a break. I constantly cook broth, and do some other chores,
cook soup, and cool it down. I don’t really take a break,
maybe 15 minutes if I can. At 9:00am, a part timer comes
and works until 3:00pm. And from 3:00pm, I start preparing. I have been looking for workers.
I can’t find anyone at all. Right now, My parents help me.
I feel awful to ask them to work for me. If you expect other people
to work like you do, It can be too much for them
as they’re not an owner. To train people as you
would train yourself is really tough… Former co-workers at Menya Musashi, They all have their own restaurants. Everyone works crazy hours. It is worse than mine.
Like some work from 5:00 AM. It’s a tough job. Since I work for myself,
and I’m not someone’s employee, this is my only chance.
I won’t get another opportunity like this. When I first opened this restaurant with
my little brother, I gave it my life. Make a living… yes I can. What’s the least favourite thing
about owning a ramen restaurant? There’s nothing I don’t like. -Good work.
– Yes, good work. One by one, as much as I can, I put my very best in every bowl I make. With ramen, out of 100 customers,
not everyone will like your food. How can I say this… As much as I can, with everything I have, I try to put my very best
into each bowl of ramen. Then if someone says it’s delicious,
that’s the best feeling. When you think about being an owner,
you think you’re the boss of everyone, and sure, you are, kind of… But what you may not know,
is that the shop owns you. And instead of one boss, you have all your
customers who you need to please. If you think you’ll get away
from having to do the dirty tasks, you may be sad to realize that you still
may find yourself doing all of them. From cleaning dishes, to washing walls,
to scrubbing floors. I asked him, if he had another
owner-like employee, would he be able to not work so much. I can’t believe his answer, which was that he would have the mentee
open up a second restaurant! -It wasn’t busy today so I finished early.
– Oh! I normally finish at this time (11:30pm),
but I didn’t. Kunimoto is the first person in
and the last person out. So kids, this is what it’s like to own
a ramen restaurant. Thank you! – Thank you!
– Thank you! Oh hey! You’re still watching? If you’re Kunimoto-san, then thank you so much for letting me
invade your restaurant for a couple days. I would say keep up the hard work, but you don’t need me telling you that. A special thanks to all those on Patreon who supports these little
documentaries of mine. It means a lot to me. And thanks to my wife, who helped
translate and worked with me to chop down 5 hours of footage
into these 10 minutes. Peace!

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