The ramen wars are heating up around the Ballpark and RiNo neighborhoods. Jeff Osaka announced earlier this year that he'd be opening Osaka Ramen on Walnut Street, a project that's now looking at a January opening; Tokio recently opened up in nearby Prospect with a menu full of ramen, sushi and charcoal-grilled skewers. And as of today, Tengu is open in the Industry building on Brighton Boulevard.
From the outside, Tengu looks like a well-guarded secret. There's no sign with the restaurant's name, just a small plaque at doorknob height reading "sake -- ramen." Even the entrance hall is stark, white and unmarked. The sound of kitchen clatter and the smell of pork stock are the only giveaways that ramen is cooking just around the corner.
Co-owner Paige Damiano says the intention is not to be secretive or evocative of a speakeasy; instead, the lack of hype is simply "Japanese humbleness." The interior of the noodle shop and the offerings there carry through on that theme of minimalism: The menu comprises five ramen styles (including one vegetarian option), one chicken curry plate and three appetizers, of which the house-made pork or veggie gyoza are the most substantial.
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The main floor houses a fifty-seat dining room and ramen counter with a slightly separate bar area, while the lower floor hides a tavern that seats an additional fifty. Tengu is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The tavern opens at 3 p.m., when an additional list of $6 yakitori (chicken, tofu, pork meatballs, mushrooms and shishito peppers) is available.