Though our food-obsessed culture is stuck on the idea of producing everything in-house, ramen nerds know that ramenyas in Japan often score their noodles from local factories. In fact, the New York ramen scene’s best-kept secret might be that, with the exception of a few kitchens such as Ippudo that make their own, just three companies supply practically all our ramen shops. One manufacturer in particular, the East Coast outpost of the Honolulu-based Sun Noodle, which set up shop in Teterboro, New Jersey, earlier this year, is quickly becoming something like the Pat LaFrieda of noodles. Sun produces three custom varieties for Chuko in Prospect Heights, and ages a thicker and chewier version for Ramen Yebisu in Williamsburg. It supplies Smorgasburg favorite Yuji Ramen, and it’s currently collaborating with several ramen chefs from Japan looking to capitalize on our insatiable appetite for soup noodles. In its quest to customize, Sun has even created a recipe for Marcus Samuelsson using Ethiopian teff flour. And when ramen guru Ivan Orkin opens his much-anticipated restaurant in New York next year, guess who’s going to supply him with toasted-rye-flour noodles? Kenshiro Uki, whose father founded Sun 30 years ago, established a trade-only “Ramen Lab” alongside the company’s Garden State production facilities, where he applies both traditional and modernist techniques to produce different kinds of alkaline noodles to match specific ingredients and styles. In a realm where chefs rarely divulge their noodle sources and anonymity is the norm, Sun wants its noodles to make a slurp heard round the world.
*This article originally appeared in the October 15, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.