Food + Dining Main

Koko’s Back with the Ethereal Noodle-Haven Namba

Narrowing his scope to upscale-casual authentic Japanese fare, the renowned Southwest Florida chef who initially turned heads at Zen Asian BBQ has opened a remarkable ramen shop in North Naples.

BY January 24, 2018


Chef Koko at Namba


When he entered the Naples dining scene with a bang several years back, helming the kitchen at the new, splashy Zen Asian BBQ, chef Pitak “Koko” Hermkhunthod surprised even the most steadfast meat-and-potatoes folks. He made them converts to ramen—a feat that could have been done with his Hokkaido broth alone, simmered each day for 17 hours.

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Now, a year after he departed the spot he helped mold, he’s making an impact again—this time boldly going out on his own and eliciting rave reviews. Not only are these noodles the perfect texture and quality that devotees who have dined in big cities know to expect (and that Hokkaido classic broth still simmers for 17 hours), but he’s also expanded his ramen offerings with several types of broth, customized toppings and changed the portion size to make it easier to slurp down a quick bowl for lunch. Or, you can stay a while and order a few of his sophisticated spins on Japanese small plates, including his famous spicy edamame, gyoza stuffed with fork-tender wagyu sirloin with both a ponzu and black truffle paste, and a whole tiger prawn the size of a lobster tail that’s grilled and coated in Asian citrus butter.

In this early stage of the restaurant, he’s keeping the menu simple and succinct. In time, with more help in the kitchen and fewer crowds at the door, he will broaden his reach with different types of sushi, such as sashimi and aburi (something he is projecting to do in early February), as well as expand the grilled selections. He is also hoping to accept reservations in the near future—something he hasn’t done as of now because the petite restaurant awash in natural wood and a calming green palette has fewer than 15 tables. 

So run, don’t walk, to get your spot—you’ll be grateful you did.

Beef Hayashi ramen

Wagyu gyoza 

Karai edamame

Grilled tiger prawn


To plan a visit:


8847 Tamiami Trail N., Naples

(239) 592-4992

Lunch Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dinner daily, starting at 5 p.m.

No reservations 


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