Nearly eight years after Biwa served its cult-forming burger with barbecued pork belly and kimchi mayo, Noraneko (Japanese for alley cat) has opened its doors. Located just a few blocks away from its sister restaurant, Noraneko is a ramen and juice hangout as imagined by owners and Japanese drinking food-obsessives Gabe Rosen and Kina Voelz.
The narrow 500-square foot space mimics its big sister with concrete floors, reused wood, and teal beam accents. Each table holds a kit of ramen essentials: Thai and ancho chile oil, sesame seed grinders, and individual trays with whole garlic cloves and garlic presses to be used with discretion.
Order at the counter, where you’ll find a pared down menu of thick, springy ramen, with shio (light and salt-flavored), shoyu (soy-sauce based), miso (hearty, miso-spiked), and vegetable (made with umami-rich mushroom broth). Add-ons include soft-boiled eggs, pork belly chasyu, and classic chasyu (more like Chinese “red” barbecue pork shoulder). Beyond, a few greatest hits from Biwa, like the kara age (potato flour-fried chicken), gyoza, and an “80’s salad” with broccoli, carrot, lettuce, almonds, and citrus.
Noraneko’s drink program, which focuses on in-house kombucha, juices, and drinking vinegars, is still under development. Right now, you’ll find Biwa’s house-made sodas, like ume plum and black pepper, with some new additions, like an addictive genmai (roasted brown rice) cream soda, a lengthy list of teas, and fresh-squeezed juices.