There’s an English idiom about taking coals to Newcastle, which describes the challenge of selling something back into the market from which it originally came. It came to mind when we heard of Yuki Yamaguchi’s plan to take the success of her Auckland restaurant Ramen Takara and open Everybody’s Table, a ramen restaurant in the Japanese city of Yokohama. After all, this is a city so enamoured of the brothy, noodley bowls of goodness that it invented its own variety and it’s even home to the world’s first ramen-themed museum.

So how will Yuki’s Kiwi-influenced ramen make its mark? “We were the first ramen shop in New Zealand to cater to vegan and gluten-free customers and these options will be prominently offered at Everybody’s Table in Japan where it is still uncommon. Although vegan and gluten-free diets are becoming more common in recent times, usually they are only catered for in specialised restaurants or large chain restaurants. These options are often overlooked by small restaurants as they are considered ‘too hard’.”

Though catering to modern mores, Yuki’s menu draws on her father’s lifetime of restaurant experience – indeed he started his career in Yokohama aged just 15 – and she still uses some of his original recipes such as those for gyozas and spring rolls with pork belly and shiitake mushrooms.

Yuki has drawn on her roots in the locale to make her Everybody’s Table dream come alive: an ex-staff member at Ramen Takara – now working as a building apprentice – pulled together the building team; a university classmate made connections with a local network of brewers and craft beer bars; extended family donated dishware and cooking equipment from their own restaurants. Thrown into the mix, too, you’ll find a bit of Kiwi flair, with staff members from Auckland on the floor, bringing some of that famous Kiwi hospitality to Yokohama rather than the more formal Japanese-style service.

Who knows, in years to come visitors to the ramen museum may find mention of ramen Kiwi style. Tracy Whitmey