July 16, 2019


Originally appeared on Forbes.com on June 30

When Nakamura.ke Mobile Kitchen popped up in Atlanta this past January, it became the first-ever glow-in-the-dark ramen shop in the world. Following its debut, it moved up to an industrial space at Camp North End in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is now gearing up for its visit to Los Angeles at Yamashiro Hollywood in a space that has never been opened to the public before.


The experience and its quirky backstory about a family of ramen-making y?kai (mythical Japanese spirits) will make its way to the City of Angels on July 3. The menu consists of three items: classic tonkatsu ramen, tonkatsu tsukemen, and vegetarian miso ramen, with toppings such as tiger prawn gyoza, braised pork belly, and poached egg, respectively. Each bowl of glowing noodles—which illuminate under black light courtesy of all-natural ingredients like quinine, making them completely safe to eat—is paired with a cocktail of your choice. After you’ve taken all of your pictures and slurped up the broth, you’re given a coin at the end of your meal that gives you access to any events Nakamura.ke will throw in the future. (More on that in a moment.)

In order to gain access to the intimate, 30-minute dining experience, you’ll have to purchase a ticket in advance. And for its Los Angeles pop-up, Nakamura.ke is doing things a bit differently. This time around, there are two options to choose from: an omotenashi VIP chef experience and a tachigui ramen bar experience. The former will include a performative element while the chefs prepare your food and is limited to just six people per seating. The latter will involve standing up at the counter while you eat, a common practice at street stalls in Japan, with room for nine guests at a time.

To celebrate their arrival to L.A., Nakamura.ke has partnered up with Disco Dining Club to throw a three-night fete from July 4-6. In line with Disco Dining Club’s wild spirit, the parties will feature lively theatrics and atmospheric actors, all while you nosh on passed hors d’oeuvres and dance to live DJ sets. Access to the events can be purchased in advance or at the door, but if you’ve dined with Nakamura.ke before (this is where the aforementioned coin comes into play) or have existing reservations, you’ll gain free entry to the hedonistic celebration.

To round this all out, Disco Dining Club has also collaborated with Kensho, a recently opened Japanese cafe on the same grounds as Yamashiro, for a speakeasy called Yomi’s Saloon. Its name is derived from the Japanese word for the underworld and promises to transport you to the lavish lives of the dead. And since the bar is open to the public, this is the perfect opportunity to get a taste of Nakamura.ke’s glowing experience if you’re unable to snag tickets to one of the ramen experiences.

While future pop-ups have yet to be announced, Nakamura.ke has its sights on cities like New York City and Chicago. But wherever they decide to go next, it’ll be interesting to see if they can top the thrilling additions they’ve included with their Los Angeles run.

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