New spot brings ramen noodles to Pleasure Point
Ramen noodle houses aren’t exactly Santa Cruz’s culinary strength, which is precisely why former Burlingame Ramen Club owner Kaji Goto thought it would be a good idea to start one here. Kaito—which serves not only ramen, but also curry, sushi, Japanese tapas and something he calls “sushi tapas”—opened about a month ago, in the spot previously occupied by Pink Godzilla on 41st Avenue. We asked Goto some questions about his new restaurant.
GT: What are sushi tapas?
Kaji Goto: Tapas are small dishes, like appetizers, and people can share them. So the idea of sushi tapas is the customer can order half orders. So it is smaller, and people can try many different kinds of sushi.
What do you think makes a good bowl of ramen?
The soup. It takes time. We usually keep it boiling for four to five hours. It’s made from scratch. We usually use pork bone, chicken bone, seafood bone and lots of vegetables. All kinds of ingredients are in the broth, so it makes a lot of flavor. Ramen is comfort food. The weather is better here in Santa Cruz than in the Bay Area ’cause it’s a little bit cooler climate, so soup is good. This is the Pleasure Point area, so a lot of people are surfing. After the surfing, they need a little warm up.
Tell me about your sake selection.
People used to just drink sake hot. Still people do. But a lot of premium sake is served at room temperature or chilled. That has more flavor. Each premium sake has a totally different flavor, like wine. Hot sake doesn’t taste different—it’s just hot. Sparkling sake, it’s lighter and has less alcohol. It’s like a cocktail. Ladies like it. It’s easier to drink.
Your non-sushi tapas menu is quite extensive. What do you recommend off of it?
We have the takoyaki, which is octopus. It’s like a dumpling—little bit of cabbage and flour and a little bit of water, like a pancake, but it’s not sweet. It’s usually round, like a small bowl. It’s grilled or made deep fried. And we put it on a dish and we use the takoyaki, which is like a ketchup. And there’s a spicy mayonnaise sauce and dried bonito flakes on the top.
INFO: 830 41st Avenue, Santa Cruz, 464-2586.