When Alec Stefansky from Uncommon Brewers and Chris La Veque from El Salchichero joined forces to create the Oasis Tasting Room and Kitchen earlier this year, anyone in the know assumed this would be a marriage filled with creative and experimental food and beers—and they were right. One of the most interesting aspects about Oasis is that in the half-year they’ve been open, the menu has already undergone several changes. The latest puts its focus on ramen, while keeping some old favorites. Executive chef Elijah Chausse talked to us about the new menu.
Why are you shifting gears to focus on ramen?
ELIJAH CHAUSSE: It’s something that we wanted to try before we opened. We went a different route when we started. We are not tied to anything there. My executive sous-chef Jasper Ramirez and I are really trying to go with the flow and see what people are receptive to, and test the waters in a few different cuisines. Neither Jasper nor I have a ramen background. So we hit the books hard and did a lot of reading. It’s certainly not traditional by any means. The cool thing about ramen is it’s one of those dishes that you can kind of make your own. And the beer pairs really well with the Asian flavors. Alec does a lot of Asian-influenced beer, as far as the flavors and profiles go.
Will the menu continue to change?
As of right now, the response to the ramen has been pretty good. It might be one of the items that sticks around. In five months, we’ve had a handful of menu changes. And we’ve kept one or two from each one. This might be the evolution of a more semi-permanent menu. But we don’t really want to be tied to anything.
How many different ramens do you have?
Right now we have two broths. Tonkotsu ramen and a veggie ramen with additions as options. You can add a miso bomb, which turns the tonkotsu broth into a miso broth. Then you can add three different kinds of meat. You can add tofu. There are a lot of different possibilities, kind of a build-your-own-ramen kind of thing. We started with four different kinds of ramen, and we slimmed it down to the two. More options, less menu style. So, we can add other menu items and still keep the menu rotating and not be 100-percent a ramen shop.
415 River St., Santa Cruz, 621-8040.