Ramen Shop in Riga - Europe's First with TOP Michelin Award

4 min.
Jan 4, 2024 4:40:36 PM

November 2023 held special significance for Latvia as it hosted the first, and arguably the most important, gastronomic ceremony. During this event, 26 of the country's restaurants were featured in the prestigious Michelin Guide.

Nevertheless, one of them is proud of a title that is significant not only locally but also throughout Europe: the small Japanese restaurant Shōyu entered the "Bib Gourmand" category and became the first of the ramen industry in the entire Old Continent to receive such a high award.

“Bib Gourmand” is a Michelin title awarded for maintaining a good quality and good value cooking ratio. In addition to Riga-based Shōyu, two more restaurants in Latvia received it – Milda, which nurtures both Latvian and Lithuanian culinary traditions, and the stylish Snatch, dedicated to modern Italian cuisine.

„Michelin Bib Gourmand“ restaurant in Latvia

Shōyu - Michelin restaurants in Riga 2

Ausekļa iela 20, Riga

"We believe that sticking to authenticity standards became the main reason for this recognition," shared Artūrs Artjoms Ļašenko, the owner of Shōyu restaurant, expressing immense joy in an exclusive interview for Tablein guide.

Shōyu - owner Artūrs Artjoms Ļašenko
Shōyu owner Artūrs Artjoms Ļašenko

First ramen shop in Europe to receive such an award

"For us as a team, especially for me and our head chef Jevgenijs Rimašs, it was a great moment of honour and appreciation. Receiving such a prestigious award means a huge success for us, especially when, in our opinion, the "Michelin Bib Gourmand" award is the highest achievement possible for a ramen shop," spoke Shōyu owner Artūrs Artjoms Ļašenko.

Shōyu - chef Jevgenijs Rimašs
Shōyu head chef Jevgenijs Rimašs

Moreover, this restaurant is proud not only for such high evaluation but also for pioneering in Europe to receive this award with the concept of a ramen shop. „Being first in the whole continent as "Bib Gourmand" in the ramen industry and being featured by Michelin Guide with the first ever ceremony in Latvia – dreams actually come true, what can I say?" Ļašenko didn't hide the emotions.

Shōyu crew were unsure about earning the award. "During the ceremony, as our colleagues kept receiving Michelin recommendations, it felt like it was over for us. Like, we were just there to applaud our friends. However, when Shōyu got a nomination and we were asked to join the stage, the whole team started screaming. It was unbelievable," remembered Ļašenko.

Sticking to authenticity was the key

According to restaurant owner, the key reason for receiving the "Michelin Bib Gourmand" award was sticking to internally-set standards of authenticity. Being a genuine Japanese place with traditional recipes played the most important role for the founders, and the concept of this small ramen shop will stay this way forever.

Shoyu noodles

"To make authentic noodles with professional equipment from Japan, to value traditions, to buy the best Asian groceries and spices, and to know as well as follow the do's and don'ts – that’s our main focus. Another key aspect is to enjoy the moments of creativity. We constantly try to incorporate new techniques or new recipes, and strive to create something new through our weekly specials. This breathes fresh air and helps soothe our minds from the constant routine work in the restaurant," Shōyu owner shared the behind-the-scenes.

Sticking to authenticity was the key

Since the very opening, restaurant's main philosophy has been to serve traditional ramen for its guests and do everything as authentically as possible. "I wanted to make noodles myself – this is also one of the most crucial parts of the restaurant's philosophy and why Shōyu cuisine is good, in my opinion. Our creative source stems from Japanese chefs and the challenges we set for ourselves through special offers," shared Ļašenko by adding that the team also find inspiration in the nature of both Latvia and Japan.

Yet, authenticity here is not only about the food but also the overall charm, the interior decorated towards nature, and even the incorporated idea of noren – traditional Japanese fabric dividers. The team hangs these beautiful flags up the door every day, ensuring that Asian people know the place is open and what is served there. 

Broad ramen options: suggests trying with truffles

Shōyu is a dedicated place for ramen, offering a generous repertoire of options from classic to soupless, from dashi-based to vegan. In addition to this, a palette of gourmet Japanese starters, bowls, and desserts – all with Instagrammable appearances – is also available.

Even though, as recognized by the Michelin Guide, every choice is worth trying, the restaurant team has suggestions for those who struggle to decide.

Shōyu - Michelin restaurants in Riga 1

"The Premium Shōyu ramen is a must-try. This bestseller is served with a truffle infusion, a signature blend of soy sauces, homemade noodles, menma bamboo, kanpyo pumpkin, and a pinkish duck fillet on top. Moreover, you can enjoy it with Chicken Gyoza on the side, which at Shōyu are served just like the ones I personally tasted in Shinjuku, Tokyo. And beer, of which we offer only the finest Japanese,” Ļašenko shared the recommendations. Also, portions at Shōyu are quite big, so there might be a few journeys to this ramen shop to try multiple dishes.

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