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Strings Ramen Bringing a Bit of Crazy Tokyo Vibes to Lincoln Park

By Paul Biasco | March 4, 2015 5:57am
 Strings is planning to open a Lincoln Park location in mid March
Strings is planning to open a Lincoln Park location in mid March
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Strings/Google Maps

LINCOLN PARK — The owners of the upcoming Strings Ramen shop said they hope to bring a bit of the "crazy side" they say exists in Japanese culture into Lincoln Park.

Kee Chan, chef and co-owner of Strings Ramen, plans to open his second Strings location this month.

The second Strings Ramen will be underground in a garden-level storefront and will include a DJ booth right near the entrance.

The shop will also feature a standing counter, similar to those found in Tokyo, where guests can stop in for a quick standing lunch.

In Japan, many businessmen stop in, slurp a bowl of ramen, and leave without ever sitting.

"Japanese culture always has a crazy side and I want a touch of that," Chan said.

Strings II will be located in the former Caminito Argentinean Grill at 1629 N. Halsted St., directly across the street from Steppenwolf Theatre.

Chan said he is planning a soft opening for March 17 if city inspections go according to plan.

The original Strings Ramen has been open for about a year in Chinatown and has received praise from a number of the city's food critics for its ramen.

The new location, which will be BYOB, will stay open until 2 a.m. at the earliest, and possibly 4 a.m. for late-night eats, a lacking element to Chicago's food scene, Chan said.

"In Tokyo and New York you don't have that problem," Chan said. "In Chicago the whole city shuts down."

Chan said he wants there to be a loud, exciting atmosphere in his new location.

He hopes it more closely resembles the ramen shops of Tokyo than the current location.

He especially likes that the location is underground.

"Just like Japan," Chan said. "There are a lot of hidden places."

Chan, who also serves as designer of the shops, has imported a custom-built noodle making machine from Japan.

The new location will feature a limited menu of about 10 items, four of which will be specialty ramen items that can only be found at the Lincoln Park shop.

Chan said he has plans to expand the Strings empire to three or four locations in the city, and each location will have four signature ramen offerings.

The ramen craze has certainly caught on in Chicago as more and more shops are popping up by the month.

In Lincoln Park, Los Angeles-based JINYA plans to open in May, and in Wicker Park Furious Spoon opened this month.

The influx of ramen is a good thing, according to Chan, and is a classic case of Chicago catching up with one of the country's culinary trends.

"The more the better," he said. 

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