Local ramen enthusiasts can join Midtown Crossing in celebrating the neighborhood’s latest opening. Ugly Duck, a venture pairing Omaha restauranteur Charles Yin and executive chef AJ Swanda, is now serving its interpretation of the renowned Japanese comfort food.
“Ugly Duck strikes a great balance between high-end and casual cuisine,” said Yin, partner and head of operations. “Ramen’s history is as a street food. It’s a very casual, fast-paced product. We’re trying to keep service light and the space intimate. But the same time, it’s really fun.”
Ugly Duck ramen is typified by fresh, gourmet noodles and broth that takes anywhere from 12-to-20 hours to craft.
“When you come to Ugly Duck, you’re going to have an experience that you’re not going to be able to have anywhere else in Omaha. Based on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, it’s going to be truly unique,” said Yin, who also co-founded Omaha Ramen Fest.
Now open at 3201 Farnam St., Ugly Duck is the next evolution of a ramen pop-up that Swanda, a former Boiler Room sous chef and street food enthusiast, launched about two years ago.
“Ugly Duck is the realization of a dream for me – the opportunity to build a restaurant I’ve always wanted to eat at in Omaha but haven’t found yet,” he said.
While ramen plays the lead, it is not the only star. The menu boasts varied, affordable options to entice a lunch crowd, including Asian sandwiches and entrée-sized salads. Yin said all of the right ingredients are in place for a successful opening and operation.
“We have a very solid kitchen with veterans from all over the city,” he explained. “We have a great opening staff and servers; they’ve all bought into and understand what we’re doing. SecretPenguin Branding Agency did a fantastic job of taking that vision and putting it into our brand.”
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