.Holding Court

Yes, soup for you

Koji Goto’s path to becoming chef/owner of Ramen Kaito started on the other side of the world in Japan, where he was born and raised. He started cooking there and immigrated to the U.S. at age 25, continuing restaurant work to gain more experience and level up his cooking game. His first foray into ownership came when he opened a restaurant in the Bay Area before he eventually moved to Santa Cruz and founded Kaito in 2013 on the Pleasure Point side of 41st Avenue. He decided to change locations three years ago, moving to the food court in the Capitola Mall.

Goto starts Kaito’s menu tour with the headlining ramen, a traditional Japanese noodle soup with a foundation of broth: a choice of pork bone, chicken bone or vegan/gluten-free. The tonkotsu with barbecue pork is popular and the spicy garlic with chicken is another favorite. Beyond ramen, Kaito also offers a Japanese curry stew with topping options of chicken cutlet, deep-fried shrimp and vegetable croquette. They also have appetizers like poke, teriyaki chicken and potstickers, and sushi selections of nigiri, sashimi and rolls.

For dessert, vanilla and matcha soft-serve ice cream is available, and the robust beverage menu has beer, sake and boba tea as well as traditional Japanese offerings such as green tea, marble soda and Calpico (a yogurt-based drink with different flavors like mango, strawberry and mandarin). Hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-8pm (close 7pm Sunday).

What motivated your immigration?

KOJI GOTO: I wanted to bring Japanese flavors and food to the U.S. I’m happy to introduce part of Japanese culture and provide something different to the community here. And I also wanted to change my life and find a better one here. I wanted to experience and compare different cultures, different countries and a different life.

What inspires you about ramen?

It’s the ultimate Japanese comfort food, originally starting as a street food and something that everyone could enjoy. It’s very popular in Japan, and I grew up eating it from childhood. It’s traditionally simpler in Japan, but here I’m able to provide more options and styles. It’s like fashion; it’s a very trendy food and people of all ages seem to really enjoy it. My food makes people smile and warms their body and soul.

1855 41st Avenue, Suite RO6, Capitola, 464-2586; ramenkaito.com.


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