Tori 44 draws large crowds during its soft opening

 The new ramen restaurant was full and waits were over 20 minutes long for dinner on Thursday night, April 19.  Photo by Cirien Saadeh

The new ramen restaurant was full and waits were over 20 minutes long for dinner on Thursday night, April 19. Photo by Cirien Saadeh

By Cirien Saadeh | Staff Reporter

After being vacant for nearly a year, a new restaurant has opened up at the site of the old Victory 44, with a nod to its predecessor in its name.

Tori 44 (2203 N 44 Ave), a ramen restaurant, opened this week to rave reviews from Northsiders. The restaurant, which is owned by Executive Chef Jason Dorweiler — who owns St. Paul’s Tori Ramen — had its first soft opening day on April 15. Its second began April 18.

 Aside from the Chicken Noodle Soup, Moua highly recommends the Shoyu Ramen for those new to Ramen. It's $10 and can be made gluten-free.  Photo by Cirien Saadeh

Aside from the Chicken Noodle Soup, Moua highly recommends the Shoyu Ramen for those new to Ramen. It's $10 and can be made gluten-free. Photo by Cirien Saadeh

“When we opened again on Wednesday, we got cleaned out. So much so that we had to close again on Thursday morning to restock,” said Tori 44 manager Josh Moua. The restaurant was busy again Thursday night when they reopened. During dinner service, every table was full and waits for tables of two were 20 minutes or more.

According to Northside resident Maggie Arbeiter, the wait is well worth it. Arbeiter was there for both Wednesday’s soft opening and Thursday’s dinner service.

“It is fantastic. I love ramen and this place definitely tops the list,” said Arbeiter who recommended the Kor Dee Yuh, a Korean ramen, and the Miso Swiss Roll, a dessert. Arbeiter also recommended the Chicken Noodle Soup, which Moua also recommended — particularly for diners new to ramen.

 While simple in name, the "Eggs" are ornate in their presentation. They run $4/plate.  Photo by Cirien Saadeh

While simple in name, the "Eggs" are ornate in their presentation. They run $4/plate. Photo by Cirien Saadeh

According to Moua, and the menu, Tori 44’s fare is locally-sourced, non-GMO, free range, and organic, with the noodles made in-house. Vegan and vegetarian options are available, as are gluten-free options. The menu recommends that diners do not do take-out.

The restaurant is not full-service. Patrons are seated and then order off the menu at a counter in either of the dining rooms. Servers then deliver food and drinks to the table. There is also a countertop bar.

Moua credits the Victory Neighborhood Association with helping get the restaurant off-the-ground. “They dropped off donuts, advertised, [and] let people know we were opening,” said Moua. “We are really excited for the community support that we have had.”

 At Tori 44, you can get a bowl of ramen for as little as $8.  Photo by Cirien Saadeh

At Tori 44, you can get a bowl of ramen for as little as $8. Photo by Cirien Saadeh

Tori 44 is currently hiring for back-of-the house positions, including dishwashers. To apply, applicants should visit the restaurant and bring a resume. Job listings can be found on Indeed.com. According to Moua, they may hire more once they have a better sense of how busy they will continue to be.

According to Moua, a grand opening for Tori 44 should be announced soon. For now, they plan to be open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11am-2pm and 4pm-10pm. Parking is available in the restaurant’s small lot and along surrounding streets.

Kenzie O'Keefe