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Founder’s Profile07 October 14
Shigemi Kawahara, the Ramen King, is the founder of Ippudo, Japan’s highly acclaimed ramen emporium. Kawahara earned the title of Ramen King and a place in the Ramen Hall of Fame after three consecutive first place wins on a Japanese television program where ramen mavens compete to create the best ramen.
Kawahara is best known for turning the Hakata-style tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen into the delicate creamy version that earned Ippudo its national acclaim. He has also elevated ramen to the realm of art by creating new ramen varieties that draw from international concepts, ingredients and cooking techniques.
His signature dishes include The Ramen King, a pork-based ramen served with a cube of gelatinous foam that changes the taste of every spoonful of soup as it dissolves in the broth.
Born and raised in Fukuoka City, Kyushu, Kawahara is the youngest of four brothers. He became interested in the restaurant and hospitality industry after graduating from college and consequently worked and trained in a number of European restaurants in Japan. In 1979, at the age of 27, Kawahara opened his first restaurant and bar named ‘After the Rain’ in Fukuoka city.
Kawahara opened the first Ippudo, with a seating of ten, in his hometown in October 1985. Since then, Ippudo has grown to include over 120 restaurants in 12 different countries, serving more than 45,000 customers per day. Kawahara’s attention to detail and hospitality redefined Japan’s ramen experience. Ippudo was the first ramen shop that allowed diners to enjoy quality ramen in a carefully-crafted setting. Each Ippudo is known for serving a unique signature ramen dish and all of the locations offer seasonal dishes. Ippudo was also the first to refer to broth by colour Aka (red) and Shiro (white), which soon became a standard industry practice.