Former Jasmine Café reopens as Downtown Ramen Bar

The Downtown Ramen Bar is so new it still doesn't have proper signage.
Photo Submitted by Catisha Joseph.

Time to say goodbye Jasmine Café and Lounge and hello to the Downtown Ramen Bar. After operating for 17 years on College Avenue between Monroe and Adams streets, the former sushi restaurant decided to call it quits in hope of revamping itself with a new name and an even newer menu.  

A group of buddies, experienced in the food industry, presented the idea of a ramen bar to the former Jasmine Café owners, with a concept to serve authentic noodles, slow cooked in a homemade broth with fresh produce, meats and more. The new eatery also offers a variety of options for those healthy eaters and others with special dietary needs.

“We wanted to bring a really good and close to authentic ramen bar that’s not like the regular 99 cent pack of ramen you would think of,” said operating manager Justin Newsome.

A month after closing as Jasmine, the site reopened Jan. 7 as the Downtown Ramen Bar, located at 109 E College Ave.

The menu includes tonkotsu, a popular customer choice is a ramen noodle bowl seasoned in pork broth, with pork belly, char siu, roasted corn, mushrooms, and narutomaki. The shoyu bowl is an egg noodle dish prepared in chicken broth, chili miso roasted chicken with ajitama, roasted corn and greens to name a few.

The Downtown Ramen Bar serves meat bowls and also offers three vegetarian bowls and caters to any dietary need for their non-meat-eating customers. The menu comprises of veggie miso, an egg noodle dish seasoned in a veggie based broth, tofu, roasted corn, mushrooms, greens, nori, and green onions; veggie ramen, veggie wonton noodle soup, and tofu curry made with spicy and savory red curry with a coconut milk base.  

“As a vegan, I love the options present on their veggie menu. I’m able to practically build my own with tofu and vegetables of my choice,” said Michael McGehee, a first-time customer.

With a busy opening week and a 45-minute wait, the Downtown Ramen Bar is open from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and reopens from 5-9 p.m. for dinner. The restaurant does this to provide the staff enough time to restock and prep for the dinner rush.

While in their soft opening phase, the Downtown Ramen Bar plans to continue with renovations to add a backroom lounge seating area and an artwork mural hallway to showcase local artist work.

“We’re still open and want everyone to come and feel happy, full and well accommodated,” Newsome said.