Four Seasons Whistler opens pop-up ramen restaurant 

Let's Ramen Restaurant serves Japanese comfort food in an urban-inspired setting

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - I HOPE YOU LIKE RAMEN, TOO Let's Ramen Restaurant + Bar, the Four Seasons Whistler's latest holiday pop-up concept, tapped local street artist Kris "KUPS" Kupskay for boldly coloured murals that incorporate elements of Japanese culture.
  • Photo submitted
  • I HOPE YOU LIKE RAMEN, TOO Let's Ramen Restaurant + Bar, the Four Seasons Whistler's latest holiday pop-up concept, tapped local street artist Kris "KUPS" Kupskay for boldly coloured murals that incorporate elements of Japanese culture.

When you're tackling a dish as intertwined with the culture and cuisine of its homeland as ramen is to Japan, you want to make sure it receives the approval of even the most discerning purists. That's why Eren Gruyel, executive chef of the Four Seasons Whistler, sought out the opinion of the handful of Japanese cooks he has working with him in the kitchen.

"I've made it for them, and they're like, 'Yes, you got it!'" says Gruyel.

Not that the New York-born chef doesn't have experience with the food of Japan; he spent two years working at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. Now, he's parlayed that experience into a new izakaya-inspired pop-up restaurant at Four Seasons Whistler that will have the popular noodle soup as its centerpiece.

With the fine-dining side of Four Seasons covered at its award-winning steakhouse, Sidecut, Gruyel said the idea was to "do something that was a bit of a faster turnaround where people can come in, they don't have to spend a lot of money, and they'll get a nice, big bowl of piping hot broth with fresh toppings and noodles.

"You come off the mountain, you're parched, you're hungry, and you just burned 900 calories on the mountain, so something like this just warms you up."

Called Let's Ramen, the limited-time restaurant will offer patrons their choice of protein, noodle and, the most essential component to any ramen, broth—there's Miso, soy, spicy and vegetarian matsutake mushroom varieties.

If ramen's not your thing (which, is quite frankly, blasphemy), the rest of the menu features popular street foods inspired by the yatai, or mobile food cart, which can be found throughout urban Japan. These include staples such as edamame and gyoza, along with a mixed green salad made with an apple-soy dressing, wasabi octopus, and even natto, a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. The side dishes will be available for purchase on their own, or in a bento box for sharing.

For dessert, Let's Ramen is eschewing the Japanese influence altogether for what Gruyel called "a s'mores pu-pu platter."

"This is not a joke," he added. "You know those old Polynesian restaurants from the '70s with the little firepit in the middle? We have those, so you can have a bowl of noodles and then cook s'mores right at your table."

Four Seasons has teamed up with a pair of Whistler creatives on the distinctly urban aesthetic of Let's Ramen: prolific local muralist Kris "KUPS" Kupskay and designer Ola Smazynski of Flock And O*. For his part, Kupskay has boldly coloured the walls of the restaurant in his own unique style, while incorporating Japanese elements such as dragons, tigers and geishas.

Smazynski took a decidedly minimalist approach to the interior decor that drew on her recent travels to European cities "where ramen is popping up everywhere, along little alleyways in old brick buildings to grand hotels," she said in a release. "The idea is to bring you a little something unexpected."

Let's Ramen marks the third year that Four Seasons has opened its own pop-up restaurant over the holiday period that veers away from the hotel's usual culinary offerings. Gruyel said the temporary restaurant offers him the perfect opportunity to get outside his comfort zone and try something different.

"It's why I do what I do," he said. "This, to me, is not work, it's fun."

Let's Ramen Restaurant + Bar opened on Dec. 17 and will run until Jan. 6. It opens from 3 to 8 p.m. daily.

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly named Ola Smazynski's company, based on information from a press release provided by Four Seasons Whistler.

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