Reader Steve H. passed the word that Ramen Kotori has opened at 1618 Copenhagen Drive in Solvang. Chef Francisco Velazquez and his wife, Ikuko “Erica” Velazquez, have partnered with Budi Kazali of The Ballard Inn to open Ramen Kotori, Solvang’s first ramen noodle restaurant. Francisco started cooking at The Ballard Inn and Restaurant where he first became accustomed to using Asian ingredients under the guidance of chef Kazali. In 2013, Erica and Francisco met in San Diego while working together at the Marine Room, the flagship restaurant of The La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. They learned team work in a high-paced kitchen, under chef de cuisine Ron Oliver and executive chef Bernard Guillas. Together they made their way north to Napa Valley and worked at Michelin starred restaurant La Toque, and at acclaimed Iron Chef Morimoto’s Morimoto Napa. After leaving Napa and moving to Sonoma County, they found an opportunity to work at a small ramen shop in Sebastopol, CA before moving back to the Santa Ynez Valley and hope to share their love for Japanese food and ramen with the community. Call 691- 9672 or visit ramenkotori.com

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