Restaurants / Openings

New Ramen Restaurant Takes Over Prime Fort Worth Space — Kintaro Grows From a Ghost Kitchen, Moves Into Crockett Row

A PaperCity Exclusive

BY // 01.04.21

Oni Ramen was forced to downsize during the lean months of the coronavirus pandemic, shuttering its first Crockett Row restaurant ― leaving only its Deep Ellum location to rebound.

Meanwhile another ramen contender was just launching as a ghost kitchen on Fort Worth’s westside. We might be seeing more  ghost kitchens begin to materialize soon, inhabiting the vacant shells of shuttered restaurants. That is certainly the case here.

Kintaro Ramen, which PaperCity Fort Worth first told you about last May, will now take over Oni Ramen’s former Crockett Row space at 2801 West 7th Street. The ghost kitchen is growing into a full blown brick-and-mortar restaurant.

One of Kintaro’s owners, Chef Jesus Garcia, knows the space well, since he was the mastermind behind Oni Ramen’s menu in the first place. This restaurant spot seems to have Asian cuisine in its DNA. Prior to Oni, it was briefly home to Kin Kin Urban Thai.

“We are shooting to open by the last week of January,” Garcia tells PaperCity.

Kintaro Ramen West 7th is opening by the end of January.

Most of the updates will occur behind the scenes, in the kitchen. But a few changes are being made to the dining room, including painting new Kintaro brand murals.

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Garcia gained his sushi skills at Sushi Yoko just off Camp Bowie, then elevated the fare at Little Lilly Sushi in Ridglea Village before launching Oni Ramen. Garcia sold his ownership percentage of Oni Ramen when it retreated to Dallas in July, but he and his partner still retain the lease on the Crockett Row space for another four years.

With the location vacant and locals already trained to seek out piping hot bowls of ramen there, it just made sense for Garcia’s newest ramen venture to hop on it.

Garcia’s recent special was Chicken Tortilla Ramen spiced with either habanero or Carolina reaper.

The first location of Kintaro Ramen actually opened in April, starting its life as a takeout only proposition at the height of the pandemic closures. That spot is located in downtown Arlington at 101 E. Abram Street, Suite 130, and it will continue to serve ramen only.

The Ridglea Hills ghost kitchen added sushi to the mix — and consistency to the product.

Still, with so much sushi already in the West Seventh corridor, Garcia has scaled back on the sushi you’ll find at Kintaro Ramen’s West 7th restaurant.

“It won’t be on the menu when we launch,” he says. “But, I will add about six specialty rolls over time.”

The chef says they plan to retain the “central kitchen” format, assuring quality control, especially of the all-important broth.

Kintaro Ramen West 7th will have some seasonal staples such as the current curried oyster ramen. Garcia will showcase a monthly special in addition to the expanded ramen menu. These include the over-the-top birria ramen (capitalizing on the birria taco craze) swimming in an ancho-guajillo soy seasoned mutton consommé, topped with tender stewed leg of mutton, and finished with onion, cilantro and a lime wedge.

Kintaro’s recent special of Birria Ramen swimming in an ancho-guajillo soy seasoned mutton consommé topped with tender stewed leg of mutton finished with onion, cilantro and a lime wedge.

Garcia has added a karashi (spicy) tonkatsu to the menu, and he has upgrade the noodles as well.

“The noodles are all custom made just for us,” he says. “Most are thicker, hand-pressed, temomi ramen, but our tonkatsu has a thinner, bouncier variety.”

Garcia has also incorporated both a regular and a spicy paitan ramen to the offerings.

“Paitan has a creamy chicken broth, almost like a velouté base. It’s a richer choice. We are Texas. . . we like gravy,” he laughs. “If you gave me the choice between chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pie, I’d take the creamy pot pie hands down.”

When the new Kintaro Ramen opens Garcia will add a vegetarian ramen to the menu as well.

“We have built a good following here in Fort Worth, and I think people are feeling fatigued of dining at home, so they’ve been asking for a dine-in option and the new restaurant will give them that opportunity,” Garcia notes.

The chef tells PaperCity that a food truck is already in the works as well. Not wanting to dilute the group’s expansion in Fort Worth, the new food truck will likely patrol Dallas, Richardson and Plano soon.

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