Alex Ritger of West Bend smiles as he enjoys dinner with
Sonya Xiong of West Bend Tuesday night at Tochi Ramen in
John Ehlke/Daily News
Gregg Des Rosier and the staff at Tochi Ramen, 705
Village Green Way, West Bend, want the public to get
away from the stereotype of ramen noodles. You know,
those packaged noodles you can find at the grocery store
for only a couple dollars.
assist in that effort, the folks at Tochi Ramen are
doing it loud and proud, and it appears Washington
County is getting the message.
Tochi Ramen was selected as one of the 10 recommended
restaurants in the county by Daily News readers in a
recent informal poll.
Tochi Ramen opened in November 2015 after about a year
in Shorewood where it was known as Tochi. Des Rosier was
the general manager and executive chef there.
think we had a good reputation coming from Milwaukee,”
Des Rosier said. “I think a lot of Milwaukee people
followed us here.”
least one person did.
literally drive to West Bend if I want good ramen,” said
Matthew Schladweiler of Milwaukee. “I’ve eaten at
20-plus ramen joints in the U.S. and this one easily is
the best one by far. Better than Morimoto’s in Walt
Disney World; better than Yokohama or Red Light Ramen
here in Milwaukee. It’s simply the best.”
Rosier worked with Tochi’s owner Deb Kern for about 15
years in various roles and at various establishments,
including Anaba Tea Room in Milwaukee. In Shorewood,
Tochi, Des Rosier said, was an immediate hit.
were the first dedicated ramen joint in all of
Milwaukee,” Des Rosier said. “Now there’s like five.”
day, Kern talked to Des Rosier about ownership.
think initially it was to stay in Shorewood,” Des Rosier
said. “But I knew the concept was working so well that
if I was to take over ownership there, I was going to
look for a second one anyway.”
Unfortunately, Des Rosier was forced to look elsewhere
because no agreement could be reached regarding the
Adam Williquette, local commercial realtor and West Bend
alderman, showed Des Rosier this spot just off the
Milwaukee River near the River Shores YMCA.
didn’t think there was a kitchen in it,” Des Rosier
said, adding, “When I peeked in the doors, you could
only see a little bit of the kitchen and it made me want
to look at this.”
What he eventually saw was the perfect place.
“This is the four times the size kitchen I was working
in,” Des Rosier said.
Excited to open his restaurant, something to call his
own, he was also nervous.
“You want to do a good job,” Des Rosier said. “I wasn’t
afraid of the concept. I wasn’t afraid that people in
West Bend would be reluctant to try it.”
Where he was nervous was because he was opening the
restaurant in his home town. He thought it was more
“You know a lot of people,” Des Rosier said. “You want
to do well.”
Rosier has been around fresh food most of his life.
Growing up, the family had a garden and often grew the
foods they’d later use for meals.
reception in Shorewood to Tochi has been similar in West
Bend since Des Rosier unlocked the doors to Tochi Ramen.
think the word of mouth has been tremendous,” Des Rosier
There are eight kinds of ramen dishes on the menu at
Tochi Ramen, including the signature dish — The Tochi
Ramen, consisting of miso broth, pork belly, crispy
pork, green onion and spicy miso deviled egg.
“The instant packets you get is completely different
than what we do,” Des Rosier said. “Traditional Japanese
ramen can take up to 18 hours to make the broth. It’s
not packaged noodles. They’re fresh noodles.
“It’s a labor love to be honest. The first time people
have real ramen probably feels the same way I did; I was
That happened to Des Rosier, a chef for about 30 years,
about six years ago. He traveled anywhere he could —
stateside and abroad — researching ramen to get a better
understanding of how to make it and how to make it into
a savory dish.
“There are books written just about ramen,” Des Rosier
Rosier said there are four types of broths — shoyu, miso,
shio and tonkotsu — with ramen. And, for a chef, that
helps them tap into their creativity.
remember the depth of the flavor from it,” Des Rosier
said. “I remember there was a lot of work that went into
it. I remember feeling, ‘This is the ultimate comfort
food.’” And it’s not just a comfort food Des Rosier and
Tochi Ramen aims to deliver to its visitors, but also an
outside-the-box atmosphere, bucking the trend of the
traditional Japanese or Chinese restaurant.
have a turntable; we play vinyl,” Des Rosier said.
“Music is a very, very important aspect of what we do
added, “We call ourselves a punk ramen joint and it’s
not just because of the music we play. It’s our approach
to thinking about ramen.”
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