A soulful family-owned ramen shop is taking over the space that housed the beloved Bang! for nearly two decades. Sera's Ramen Enclave will open at 3472 West 32nd Avenue in the Highland on May 6. The new ramen eatery draws culinary influences not only from Japan but also from Vietnam and Korea and is owned by Sera Nguyen along with her husband and mother.
"I grew up in my mom's restaurant in Vietnam, in the kitchen, sitting on the counter," Nguyen shared. "The only picture I have of those younger years in Vietnam is one that has my mom and I in it, in front of that small restaurant. Those memories are much of what is behind my drive to open this place. When we moved to America, everything changed and my mother, who was once known for her amazing knife skills, never came around to being able to open her own restaurant," she continued.
Without formal culinary training, Nguyen relies on her passion for cooking and practice in her own kitchen when developing her menu. That, along with recipes and techniques passed down from generation to generation, is the base of a lineup of dishes that includes appetizers like the duck steam bun sliders and the curry crispy crepes with jumbo shrimp; ramen creations like the the chicken-based spicy dashi miso ramen and oxtail broth-based flavorsome ramen, and specials like the garlic curry yakisoba and duck fried rice. Beer and wine will complement the authentic yet creative food.
"I have watched people cook as I was growing up and I have done the same in my travels through Asia. Many of the people I admire, who create deeply flavored food, didn't go to culinary school and neither did I," Nguyen confessed. "There is a peasant aspect to my cooking, one that is instinctual and brings in a textured experience. Satisfying dishes are about spice and flavor but also a bite, a crunch that almost feels like a spring. Think of biting into tempura or the layer of texture that sprouts add to a dish. It is those subtle details that matter to me and that I believe make food special," she continued.
Nguyen spent the last several years completing a business and molecular biology degree at the University of Colorado. Neither her or her husband have first-hand experience in the hospitality world but his managerial background and her business degree, along with her mother's help, will likely make Sera's a new neighborhood favorite.
The youngest of three sisters, Nguyen picked her first name for the eatery to make her mom's culinary story whole. Her first restaurant in Vietnam was launched before Sera's birth and was named after the two older sisters.
When it opens in May, Sera's Ramen Enclave will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays.