Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Look at the Pour-Over Ramen at the New Nima Café

How an Italian-trained chef is making nearly instant ramen at Nima Café in the marina district


The ham hock ramen at Nima Café is topped with green onions, shredded bok choy, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, strips of dried nori (seaweed), and a ramen egg.

Step 1

Joe Magnanelli worked at Cucina Urbana for over a decade and is now executive chef at Asian-fusion restaurant Animae. For Nima Café next door, he cooked up a nontraditional ramen. The broth starts with kombu dashi (kelp and water), simmering for three hours with a bevy of ingredients, including brown sugar, sake, and shiitake. He adds a tare (paste) of soy sauce, sherry vinegar, and miso.



Step 2

Ramen aficionados know a good egg when they see one. The soft-boiled egg, or ajitsuke tamago, that typically accompanies a bowl of ramen has a custardy consistency and a flavor of its own when it’s made right. Magnanelli uses organic eggs from GoneStraw Farms and soaks them overnight with some of the ramen broth, Bragg liquid aminos, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.



Step 3

Magnanelli is a pasta-making guru, so it’s only natural that he insisted they make Nima’s ramen noodles in-house. But not all noodles are the same. “With pasta, you want the noodles to swell and absorb the sauce, but with ramen, they can’t swell up in the broth,” he explains. The dough for ramen requires more gluten, baking powder, and alkalinity. They go through a manual noodle press before being portioned out.



Step 4

Nima has two types of ramen, a vegetarian one topped with a seasonal vegetable, the other with smoked ham hock instead of cha siu (pork belly). Each bowl is portioned ahead of time with the noodles and veggies and toppings, then refrigerated until ordered.



Step 5

The broth isn’t bubbling in a stock pot over a stove—it’s in a large kettle, then poured from a tap when a customer comes in and orders a bowl. Magnanelli says it was a workaround for the fact that Nima Café doesn’t have a kitchen (all prep work is done at Animae next door). The biggest challenge was keeping the broth piping hot—“no one wants lukewarm ramen,” he says—and coming up with a stock recipe that wouldn’t congeal in the kettle. The result is a light, but flavorful, bowl of noodles that can be ordered quickly but is exponentially better than zapping a Styrofoam cup in the microwave.

Nima Café

971 Pacific Highway

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The SoCal (Social Calendar!)

From black-tie galas to costumed 5Ks, these events will keep your social calendar full—and you feeling good

Angelo Sosa leaves Death by Tequila, San Diego Gets SoCal’s First Native American-Owned Brewery

After a long holiday break, Hot Plates returns

A Q&A With the New Owner of Ballast Point

Happy Half Hour Podcast 179
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Best Chicken Wings In San Diego
    The results of food critic Troy Johnson’s epic quest for the city’s best tiny chicken
  2. San Diego's Best New Restaurants of 2019
    From a 200 million-dollar renovation project to a dirty little burger, these made a dent
  3. The Must-Try Dishes of 2019
    SD Mag food critic and Food Network judge Troy Johnson names his top dishes of the year
  4. Video: A Peek At Our Insiders Club
    For members only…New perks, insider info and access to the editors
  5. The SoCal (Social Calendar!)
    From black-tie galas to costumed 5Ks, these events will keep your social calendar full—and you feeling good
  6. Where to Celebrate New Year's Eve in San Diego 2020
    Whether you’re celebrating the end of a decade or the beginning of a new one, these are fine choices of venue.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Come See What’s New in Palm Springs

This SoCal city is constantly reinventing the landscape with new places to stay and play

Win Tickets to the 42nd Annual SDCCU Holiday Bowl

This year’s USC vs. Iowa match-up marks the Holiday Bowl’s third straight paring of teams that are ranked nationally in the top 25
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags