Long lines hamper Ramen Attack! block party

Categories: Events
Thumbnail image for Zen_Box_Ramen_bowls_450.jpg
Joy Summers
An exercise in extreme patience: Ramen Attack attracts a few too many fans

As Chef John Ng and Lina Goh were plotting their first Ramen Attack! event, we warned them: If the weather is nice, you'll likely be inundated. There haven't been many ramen events in the Twin Cities, but we've learned from the past two that people will show up in droves for the chance to slurp some of that flavorful broth and silky noodles in the warm afternoon sunshine.

Last Sunday, we headed over to Ramen Attack! at Zen Box Izakaya and stood in line so you didn't have to.

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Joy Summers
This is going to take some time
Before we even set foot inside the gates we were warned that the expected wait for a bowl of savory broth and fresh noodles from Sun Noodles would run in the hour and a half range.  We took note of the lack of line for Surly and sake and decided to push forth with some brews in hand.

Joy Summers
Mu Daiko drummers entertained the crowd
Two prominent ramen chefs had flown in for the event. Chef Shigetoshi Nakamura, considered one of the "Four Ramen Devas" -- gods of the cuisine -- is the author of several cookbooks, has competed with the chef of Ippudo of New York, has been recognized by Ferran Adria of the famed El Bulli, and appeared on Food Network's Chopped

The other celebrity chef was Mihoko Obunai, a Japanese native who was trained at the French Culinary Institute. She's appeared in Bon Appetit and Food & Wine and also competed on Chopped.

Expectations were high, but did we mention the lines? Here's a great Vine that illustrates the length from Laurence Ducker (@LaDucker):

Plenty of time to wait also left plenty of time to Tweet:

Location Info

Zen Box Izakaya

602 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

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DavidFoureyes topcommenter

Have you ever seen a ramen joint in Tokyo? There are like 20 seats in a big one. How could anyone have thought this made any sense?

I like Zen Box, but this should have been an invitation event or a ticketed event. Why does every "food festival" in the Twin Cities keep relearning the same lesson?

k2yeb topcommenter

I would never wait more than 60 minutes for food. I don't care where it is or how good it is, its just not worth it. 


My girlfriend and I got in line at 1:20 and left, ramen in hand, at 4:50.  Probably a third of that time was spent ten feet away from the window giving out the ramen bowls, since once you got far enough in line to get your ticket you had to wait in another unorganized cluster of people to get your noodles.  We both opted for the Tokyo style, which took the longest to prepare, so we watched quite a few people shuffle through the cluster grabbing the other two Ramen dishes offered.  A man who had been 20 minutes ahead of us throughout most of the line was still waiting for his Tokyo style ten minutes after we had entered the cluster.  Everyone gathering around the same counter caused confusion on who had entered the cluster for Tokyo Style first, and who had snuck in the side to get one of the two to four bowls going out every ten minutes or so.  And since the ramen window was right next to the large speakers playing music for the event, anyone prone to headaches found themselves suffering in a hurry.

I will say that the ramen itself was superb.  I'm always a huge fan of Zen Box's pork belly, which blended perfectly with the chicken and soy broth.  After finishing our bowls in under ten minutes we were going to grab a  couple cans of soda and ice cream sandwiches on our way out, but since it was after 5 they had already taken down the ticket counter.  And while the soda stand was still open, they were unable to sell us anything through cash since it was a ticket only event.

I'm thrilled that there was so much support for my favorite Minneapolis restaurant, but they needed at least another block's worth of space in the street and were grossly understaffed.  Better luck next year, and until then I'll keep enjoying their ramen and takoyaki from the comfortable seats of their restaurant during normal operation.  


My colleagues told me this was a mess and not really worth it. Good to see their opinion corroborated.


Small correction, ALL broths were chicken base according to the signage, so, sadly, oddly, the Old School Tokyo Ramen base was not, as you say, "porky".


You did? Well I wish you had let me know before I made the perilous 3+ hour journey :P .

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