Kevin Ma has years of experience working with his favorite foods — and now he’s bringing that expertise to East Setauket with his new restaurant, Sei Ramen.
“Japanese noodle is my favorite,” he said. “It’s my life.
Ma started his noodle journey after living in Japan where he worked for and learned the art of creating the perfect bowl of ramen. When he moved to the U.S., he noticed the ramen trend making its way across the states and decided to open up his first restaurant in Georgia.
After owning his shop down South for a few years, Ma decided to leave the space to his cousin and move his family up to Stony Brook after discovering and loving this area.
“I fell in love with Port Jeff,” he said. “Finally I found this place and wanted to put my ramen restaurant in here.”
The eatery is located at 244 Route 25A in the same shopping center as Wild by Nature.
The launch of Sei took about 17 months, he said, because the space was completely gutted out and redone. The inside now, decorated with modern Japanese flair, gives its customers a cozy and warm setting to enjoy the long menu of ramen meals.
Finally opening its doors to the public last Friday, he’s expecting the official grand opening to happen after the New Year. But he encourages customers to come down and try a bowl of his authentic foods for lunch or dinner.
“’Sei’ in Japanese means ‘honest,’” he said. “That’s what we wanted to do, give the taste of Japan to Setauket.”
Specializing in small dishes, the menu features pork based, chicken based, vegetarian based and a signature tomato based ramen. Some are spicy, some are mild, sure to find a taste that everyone will enjoy. “We offer great food, made fresh every day,” he said.
Ma added that he wanted to focus on small dishes, as well as the ramen, so customers can try new things. “We just want to do our best and bring honest, good food to the community,” he said.
After moving to the North Shore, Ma said that his two young boys have become huge helps with the new family business. “My wife and kids love ramen,” he said. “Before we opened, my son would help try the food — he’s my first fan.”
The space was vacant prior to Sei Ramen’s occupancy, and passerbyers were wondering when the shop would officially open.
“I think the location is great,” said Braxton Maldonado, of the wait staff. “I’m so excited to be working here.”
In addition to serving in-store patrons, Sei Ramen will also be rolling out an online ordering service soon. Check the website for more information.
Scroll down for photos.
Top: Kevin Ma at his new restaurant Sei Ramen. All photos by Julianne Mosher.