Ramen Reality: El Paso entrepreneurs hit it big with ramen restaurant

Ramen Reality
Ramen Reality{ }

It's a cold night in November near downtown El Paso and dozens of people have been standing in line for more than an hour. They're waiting to get their hands on a bowl of soup, specifically ramen.

“I’ve never been first in line,” said El Pasoan Ramon Morales. “This is my first time being first in line. But I’ve definitely waited here for like an hour or two hours. It’s definitely worth it.”

This is how the Kaedama journey started. Inside this converted Volkswagen bus. It quickly became one of the most popular food trucks in the Sun City.

But after this particular night, the Volkswagen bus will be retired. It's the end of one chapter and the start of another.

“It’s just time for us to move on to a restaurant and away from the bus,” said Gabriel Valencia.

“I love the truck but we’ll see what happens with the restaurant, dude, I’m exicted,” said Andres Romero.

Valencia and Romero are both veterans of the local restaurant scene. Less than two years ago, they decided to open their own restaurant. But they knew they would have to start small, hence the food truck.

“It was just motivation for us to finally open up a restaurant,” said Romero.

When it came to a type of food, they settled on ramen, the Japanese dish that combines noodles and a miso-style broth.

“One of the ideas I had was ramen,” said Valencia. “The next morning I told Andres, ‘What about ramen.’ And he was like, ‘I was thinking the same thing.’ And so that’s what it came to be.”

And their ramen quickly became a smash hit.

“Immediately, since the beginning, we saw that there was a line,” said Romero.

“It wasn’t a huge surprise because I knew we were putting out good food and we were in a very unique little vessel,” said Valencia.

Then it was time for Phase Two: Opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. So they turned to their fans for help. They launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised $16,000.

Romero said: “It has been very successful in the U.S. in other places so we just said, ‘why not?’”

Last month, their vision finally took shape. Kadema's new location is in El Paso's Kern Place neighborhood. Every night since they opened, people line up outside and wait for a table.

“It’s not super intimidating because I’ve managed plenty of kitchens,” said Valencia. “The only difference is that now it’s my kitchen. So it’s a little more stressful if anything. But I have the experience. And Andres and I lean on each other. So we don’t worry too much. We know it’s going to be successful.”

Along with ramen of all types, the restaurant also serves other traditional Japanese dishes. And the future looks bright for a pair of young entrepreneurs who had a shared vision.

“We really didn’t know how El Paso was going to react but it’s been great,” said Romero.