Chef/Owner Noel Cruz

June 27, 2016 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: Editorial, Food, People | Tags: No tags found.

The Chef / Owner of Ichicoro Ramen selects the Reuben From Wright’s Gourmet House

Why is this the best thing you ever ate between two slices of bread?
It tastes good, for one, but as rich as it is, it’s a pretty well-balanced sandwich. Typically between the fatty richness of the corned beef there would be Russian dressing, which is kind of a riff on Thousand Island dressing, but this one has a more mustard-based sauce, which I like. The sauerkraut and mustard are sharp enough to cut through the richness.

How did you find out this sandwich?
[I heard of Wright’s Gourmet House] through family, basically word-of-mouth. It’s been around for quite a few years. I have a long love-history with Reuben sandwiches. My dad used to take me to this place called Proud Lion Pub up in North Tampa when I was young. We almost always went once or twice a week and we’d have a Reuben and [Wright’s Gourmet Hosue] is on par, even a little better.

How would you describe the cuisine at Ichicoro?
Ichicoro is a Japanese Ramen shop, but has one foot in tradition and a foot leaning [toward] more contemporary, with all the influences of Florida. We’re not in Japan, we don’t have as much access to all the ingredients you would get there, but we’re as close as we can get, especially with the flavor profile. We use what we have to enhance the flavor and garnish it. But the technique and the tradition are the same as in Japan.

What is one dish everyone should try at Ichicoro?
It’s a small menu so we sell a lot of everything, but if there’s one that profiles the technique, it’s the Champon Ramen; it’s our longest-cooking broth, it has tons of flavor, it’s rich, it’s based on a style of ramen that’s not seen a lot, especially here in Florida.

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without in the kitchen?
Salt. I feel like when used properly it makes everything taste better, and I don’t think it gets used properly enough. Salt also has many forms. Soy sauce, for example, we use here as salt. It’s like seasoning, if you will, but very particular.

Where did you go to culinary school?
[I’ve wanted to be a cook] for a long time and have been professionally since 1998. I went to the Culinary Institute of America. It’s a great school; you get what you put into it. They definitely have one of the best programs in the world.

What’s the best thing about Tampa’s food scene right now?
I’m from Chicago, but my family moved here when I was young in the early ‘80s, then I left in 1998 and then came back last year. It’s a real, real amazing time for the dining scene here in Tampa. Because I had family here I was always watching from a distance, then the timing just seemed right. So far, so good.

Wrights Gourmet House
1200 S. Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33629
(813) 253-3838