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February 16, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Samurai Noodle: ramen house opens in University District

Last week, Eater Greg Maass could hardly contain his enthusiasm. “I just walked by the new Samurai Noodle location on the Ave,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Looks like they will be opening any day. Can’t wait.” Can’t wait. That’s what people have been saying since word first came down about the second version of the tiny ramen shop at Uwajimaya Village — whose anticipated opening at is nearly two years overdue. Well, this just in via General Manager Ryo Izawa, whose U-District ramen shop (finally) made its debut on Saturday: “Grab your chopsticks!”

Why I love soup noodles: the Samurai Armour Bowl, rich with roasted pork and “flavored egg.” [Seattle Times photo/Ken Lambert]

So, what took so long?

“The building was old,” says Ryo of the former La Tienda Folk Art Gallery space at 4138 University Way N.E., now home to a Samurai twice the size of the original. “We should have demo’d it.” But that wasn’t in the cards, he says. In the end, owner Phil Sancken — who co-founded Caffe Appasionato — opted for time-consuming repairs. Though the lease was signed in April 2008, between negotiations, construction and permitting next thing you know it’s 2010.

Samurai in the U-District — as seen last week through the storefront window.

Well, yippee already! Samurai’s open for business from 10 a.m. daily, closing at 10:30 Sundays-Thursdays and at 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. “I’ll take a few weeks to identify what the best business hours will be,” says Ryo. They may consider staying open later if the hungry hordes continue to show up. He’s also testing the full-service model at the new restaurant. “For now, we’re taking orders at the tables.” Whether that flies in the long run remains to be seen. “This weekend it was already busy, but today is the day,” Ryo said this morning, preparing for the first full school-day lunch rush.

At the Waji Village store, customers order at the counter. Not so on the Ave.

[Seattle Times photo/Ken Lambert]

Greg Maass wrote that his office is just down the street from the new 44-seat Samurai, and he, like so many of us, know exactly why the shop on the back side of Uwajimaya Village regularly draws a crowd.

Did someone say ramen? [Seattle Times photos/Ken Lambert]

Yo, Greg. You been yet? Anybody else? Feel free to weigh in, but cut these guys a break: they’ve only been open a few days and I suspect the amount of anticipation could turn a lineup of chopstick-wielding sipsters into a fanatical feeding frenzy. Sorry, there’s no Web site — yet — says Ryo (“I’m slow!), and you’re welcome to call ahead for take-out: 206-547-1774.

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