Chui does exactly what you tell it to do.
That’s the name of Mike “Ramen Lord” Satinover’s gleaming, new, half-ton Yamato Richmen Type One ramen noodle machine, currently in residence in the living room of his West Loop apartment. It’s named—or at least I’ve named it—for one of the minor AI drones in the classic manga franchise Ghost in the Shell.
“I’ve been making ramen noodles for ten-plus years and the vast majority of the time I’ve done it with a hand-cranked noodle machine,” says Satinover, the obsessive ramen ronin whose periodic pop-ups consistently sell out within minutes. “Making noodles on those is brutal. The dough is crumbly and very dry and takes extreme effort to turn into anything cohesive. But with the Yamato it’s the opposite. [It] turns on and does what it is told. It does not give a fuck about you. Every dough comes together into a smooth and supple sheet. This is amazing, because now your attention can be put elsewhere in the process, but it’s also a little terrifying, because your tiny mistakes are much more difficult to correct.”
I couldn’t detect any flaws in the thick, chewy, tender, and resilient noodles his Lordship made for a group of superfans one evening last week. Since Chui’s delivery last month, he’s been inviting friends and strangers into his home to observe the process (and take home some fresh noodles), with the object of mastering this exacting machine—perfecting his game in advance of opening an eventual brick-and-mortar ramen-ya.
They’re good enough for professionals too. He’s made noodles for staff meals at Ever, for a special at Milwaukee’s Red Light Ramen, and for a SuperHai pop-up at Ludlow Liquors (playing their own MNF on July 25).
Santinover’s offering two varieties of mazesoba, aka “mixing noodles,” or soupless ramen. One is based on Tokyo-style aburasoba, slicked with soy sauce and garlicky lard, topped with braised pork, green onion, nori, crispy shallots, and a golden, jiggling egg yolk. The other is a riff on tantanmen, with ground pork, tingly Sichuan peppercorns, sesame, and crushed cashews.
Either way you go, the noodle is the star. “It’s slurpable and fun,” says Satinover. “It’s a thick, chewy noodle made with a good amount of egg, which adds resilience and also tenderness. Mazesoba is about texture, so I wanted a noodle that would stand up to the sauce but not dominate its flavor.”
Look alive. Tickets for this extraordinary Foodball are on sale right now, and they’ll go like lightning. There will be precious few orders available for walk-ins, beginning at 5 PM this Monday, June 18 at the Kedzie Inn in Irving Park, where barkeep Jon Pokorny will be serving up crisp, cold lager, the ideal, but perhaps superfluous, lubricant for these slippery, tentacular bowls.
Meantime, Chui suggests you contemplate the full Monday Night Foodball schedule below:
7/25: Asian stoner snacks from SuperHai
8/22: Vargo Brother Ferments
8/29: the triumphant return of Funeral Potatoes