You might not expect a serious ramen shop in a Harris Teeter shopping plaza on the far edge of suburban Matthews. But that’s where you’ll find Yume Bistro with Rosena Tong behind the counter and her husband, the aptly named Tony Yum, in the kitchen.
Born in Hong Kong, Yum learned his trade partly in the family’s Cantonese-style restaurant in San Francisco’s East Bay. But when he finished college, “I wanted to do something different,” he says. So he apprenticed with a chef from Japan. “I worked with my master for eight years, starting from the bottom, chopping vegetables.”
Yume’s menu features specialties common in Japan but rare in the Carolinas. There’s Chawanmushi, a soup-like appetizer made with egg and bits of seafood that arrives in a china cup. Or Takoyaki – imagine hot and savory donut holes stuffed with morsels of octopus – which is popular with Japanese bar patrons.
Ramen is star of the show, though: comforting bowls of noodle soup featuring pork bone broth “cooked from scratch for 20 hours,” the menu boasts. In addition to traditional soy and miso flavors, there is a Korean Kimchi variation, plus Chef Yum’s own Thai Curry Ramen.
“I’m a soup guy, but I also love curry with rice,” Yum explains. “So I tried to get those flavors into a ramen bowl.”
Coconut milk and scratch-made curry paste tint the noodles and broth a creamy yellow. There’s a generous slice of pork belly, a soft-boiled egg, bean sprouts, slivers of mushroom and bright green scallions. A garnish of pepper threads adds a red exclamation mark.
How did Yume Bistro end up in Matthews?
“A friend who travels for business told us about Charlotte, and we immediately fell in love with the city,” chimes in Rosena Tong. Leaving San Francisco’s high cost of living and long commutes, they opened Yume in August. Home is just 10 minutes away. “With two kids, and another on the way, this is a good place for our family.”
Address: 1369 Chestnut Lane (at Potter Road), Matthews.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Details: 704-821-0676; www.facebook.com/yumebistro.