“Let’s eat first.”
This place excited me every day from the start. Because from the start, I didn’t have much experience in the restaurant business. Even though [opening day] was so slow, with almost no customers at all, when we cooked the first meal for a customer I was shaking because I’m like, ‘it’s real now.’ I practiced a lot, but I knew when I cooked the first bowl, it was going to be a memorable bowl. I can remember the feeling of the bowl now still. I was so nervous. Although we opened 3 months ago, I’m still freaking out. I still try to develop everything, everyday.”
Tan Pruktaveesub’s two passions in life are cooking and videography, and sometimes he does both at once. Born in Thailand, Tan grew up frying eggs and rice instead of doing homework while his parents were working. But his first jobs were working in the film industry, starting as a camera assistant and then aspiring to become a director of photography in New York. In 2009, he began to realize that dream and moved to the city to study film.
Tan got the chance to shift gears after working in the New York film scene for four years by pitching ideas for a ramen restaurant to potential business partners. After being accepted, Tan made the space his own by creating the menu and honing his business plans. His wife, Aey, helped him design the logo, interior design, and overall atmosphere of the space. Since Kame Ramen is a new endeavor, Tan is always looking for ways to improve and further develop his flavors.
Almost every week, we are still looking for ways to make it better. I feel that right now, I cannot say I have the best ramen in the city, because my goal is to be as good as the good ramen places. I wanna get to that level, and I feel like I have to develop to be that kind of restaurant.”
He’s not all business; he’s more into the business of making relationships and improving his craft. For Tan, he’s genuinely invested in the food, working to give recipes more umami and soul. Moreover, he strives to create intimacy, to bring guests into his kitchen, his second home, and treat them like family. This sentiment comes from his family, where he was raised to treat everyone equally with respect.
Tan mentions that the menu will slowly evolve over time, adding new concepts and flavors, but for now the Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen is one of the more popular items. He continues to work on bettering himself and his business, and relies on his experienced staff and customers for advice on ways to improve.
I follow this rule for myself: work hard and be humble. You could be scared to step to a new place where you don’t feel comfortable, but at least it’ll be a new experience. You might not get success from that. But even if you don’t have experience, just step to the new step, because that new step is going to bring you somewhere that you’d never be otherwise.”
Kame Ramen is located at 435 Park Ave. S. New York, NY 10016.