Oni’s pecan dashi ramen offers a full-bodied vegetarian broth. Photograph courtesy of Oni.
SLURP, SLURP, DUNK, and repeat. That’s the rhythm of ramen at Oni.
The Albuquerque restaurant, which opened in late May, serves up to 120 bowls a day of its New Mexican take on the Japanese classic. “The inspiration for Oni came mainly from a love for local ingredients, those who produced them, and a coincidental meeting of like-minded individuals,” says co-owner Daniel Linver, who, along with chef David Gaspar de Alba, first conceived of Oni as a food truck while working at Silver Leaf Farms, in Corrales.
Launched at Marble Brewery on January 1, 2017, Oni has been a hit with customers for its flavorful bowls featuring red chile and local, seasonal ingredients—hakurei turnips and radishes from Carrasco Family Farm, in Belén, Japanese eggplant and cayenne peppers from Silver Leaf Farm, jalapeños from Vida Verde Farm, in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and eggs from Raised on Sand Farm, in Albuquerque’s South Valley.
Their popularity meant the monthly brewery gigs quickly became biweekly and even earned them recognition as New Mexico’s representative in the Food Network’s 50 States of Food Trucks. When the duo paused the truck for six months in order to open a brick-and-mortar noodle shop at Sixth Street and Central Avenue earlier this year, the pent-up demand was overwhelming. On opening day, they sold out in 10 minutes.
“We want to make sure money spent at Oni is reinvested in our community and returned to help New Mexico family farms grow,” says Gaspar de Alba, whose love of Japanese cuisine began when he headed up Yakuza Lounge, a popular izakaya in Portland, Oregon.
Oni uses local ingredients, including eggs from Raised on Sand Farm. Its pork dumplings are a fan favorite. Photograph courtesy of Oni (left), Allison Duff @hungriestgirlinthewest (right).
With mouthwatering small plates such as the savory, vegan-friendly shiitake dumplings in chile oil and seared okra with a spicy yuzu aioli and katsuo furikake, that mission soars. Oni’s slurp-worthy bestseller remains the signature shoyu ramen, with perfect noodles, soft-boiled egg, and seasonal veggies floating in a rich red chile broth made by simmering marrow-dense pork bones for 24 hours.
“Every dish starts with pairing vegetables and building from base flavors to create new and exciting combinations,” says Linver. In late August, for example, Chimayó red chile starred in tantanmen ramen, made with a spicy cashew pork broth, fresh local corn, cherry tomatoes, and Talus Wind Ranch ground pork. For those who prefer a plant-based option, Oni’s pecan-dashi ramen uses pecan power to create its full-bodied broth.
“You can always guarantee the freshest ingredients coming out of this kitchen,” says Gaspar de Alba. “It’s the food that I would want to eat.”
600 Central Ave. SW, Suite 100, Albuquerque; 505-503-6722, oniabq.com