Michelin Guide goes back to its roots in recognizing used car dealership’s ramen

It’s kismet. The Michelin Guide, started more than a century
ago by a French tire company, has returned to its vehicular
roots in recognizing a used car dealership in Japan for its
exceptionally tasty noodles.

At Hot Air in Tottori Prefecture, proprietor
Katsumi Yoshida specializes in Suzuki models and additive-free
ramen. His hard work in the kitchen has earned the shop a
mention as a Bib Gourmand restaurant in Michelin’s latest edition on
the top eateries in Kyoto, Osaka and Tottori, the Asahi Shimbun reports.

Bib Gourmand status indicates “quality food at a maximum of
5,000 JPY” (about $58): a bowl of shio (salt) or shoyu (soy
sauce) ramen at Hot Air costs 800 JPY including tax (roughly
$9). “Now the name will also remind customers of hot steam from
ramen,” Yoshida reportedly said.

Yoshida established Hot Air in 2002 and started serving ramen
roughly a decade later in an effort to provide “quality food”
to children. He built a kitchen at the dealership and converted
a meeting room into a small dining area with counter seating
and tables.

According to Spoon & Tomago,
Yoshida “approached ramen with the precision of an engineer,”
altering the temperature by single degrees or adjusting
ingredient weights by as little as 0.1 gram to achieve the
perfect balance.

Given that the link between second-hand cars and noodles is
tenuous at best, Yoshida’s ramen offering wasn’t an overnight
success. Initially, according to Asahi Shimbun, Hot
Air experienced a complete lack of interest from customers. “He
has groundless confidence that ‘all things must go well,’ and I
had no choice but to go along with him,” Yoshida’s wife and Hot
Air co-manager Kaori said.

Word-of-mouth eventually led a Michelin official to the outré
eatery, and the second-hand car shop sits among eight other
area ramen restaurants in the new guide. Now, Yoshida has a new
goal: continuing to work on his extraordinary ramen so that one
day, Hot Air will be awarded a Michelin star.

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