Furious Spoon ramen shop to open in Evanston


Photo courtesy of Lindsey Wagner

The scene outside Furious Spoon’s Logan Square location. This fall, the ramen shop plans to open its doors in Evanston at 1700 Maple Ave.

David Fishman, City Editor

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Chef Shin Thompson, a former Evanston resident who is bringing his ramen joint to the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene.

Chicago-based ramen shop Furious Spoon will open at 1700 Maple Ave., the former space of Red Robin Burger Works, this fall. The 2,000 square foot restaurant will seat roughly 50 people and stay open late — some of the chain’s other locations serve steaming soup into the early morning.

“Evanston was always very attractive, the prospect of the college campus and the locals; we can really draw from both communities,” Thompson said. “Our concept lends well to that. We’re relatively inexpensive, fast and casual.”

Thompson, who attended Evanston Township High School, said he first “fell in love” with ramen while traveling in Japan as a child. There, it became a hobby to seek out the best new ramen shops, which sit on virtually every corner and utilize different techniques, he said.

About 12 years ago, he tried to bring the Japanese “working man’s food” to Chicago, but couldn’t find any investors to back his plan. Since then, ramen has become more popular in the United States as Americans discovered its “addicting quality,” Thompson said.

In 2015, Thompson opened his first Furious Spoon shop in Wicker Park and has since opened two more locations — Logan Square and inside Revival Food Hall — with plans to open another three by the end of the year. Evanston will be his first expansion into the Chicago suburbs.

“In the city it’s saturated in terms of new (ramen shops) trying to open,” Thompson said. “The really good ones thrive and the ones that aren’t so good will die away.”

He said his shops have survived because of their unique combination of atmosphere, food and service. Furious Spoon is known for its “obnoxiously loud” hip-hop music, he said, which attracts a crowd of loyal customers. In Evanston, the restaurant’s interior will feature dark communal tables and a “centerpiece” bar.

The menu will include a slew of longtime favorite ramen dishes along with new additions like beef and ahi tuna poke bowls. The restaurant will also offer a selection of beer, sake and seasonal cocktails.

Michael Martínez, a McCormick senior, said he has sampled ramen in Chicago, New York and New Jersey. Among those, he said, Furious Spoon stood out as the best — specifically the Shoyu Ramen, a signature bowl made with homemade noodles, tonkotsu broth and flavored with a shoyu tare.

“The music that they play is all ’90s to the early 2000s rap and hip-hop,” Martínez said. “It’s kind of interesting for a traditional ramen place. The soundtrack adds a lot to the chillness of the atmosphere when you eat there.”

Martínez said the new shop would likely be popular among his peers because of its affordable pricing and lack of much competition.

Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said Furious Spoon will be the city’s second ramen-focused restaurant, joining Table to Stix Ramen, which opened in fall 2015 on Davis Street.

Coakley said Asian food has recently become “very popular” in Evanston, with two other restaurants — Sushi Burrito and Aloha Poke — looking to open in the city. As for Furious Spoon, she said it was good to see “homegrown talent” returning to Evanston and supporting the community.

This story was updated to clarify comments from Annie Coakley.

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