NORFOLK, Va. - We are celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Part of celebrating it is honoring their culture - and what better way to do so than by highlighting the delicious food?
Alkaline in Norfolk is a unique restaurant celebrating those flavors every single day.
It’s a ramen spot, but it’s unlike any other because of the Filipino owner’s unique background growing up in Japan, making food featuring his own twist while staying true to himself.
“It was something I cared a lot about,” said chef and owner Kevin Ordonez. “And at that time, there were no ramen restaurants. There was absolutely none. There were a few sushi restaurants that offered ramen, but it wasn't a restaurant dedicated to it.”
Seeing the city as an empty belly, Chef Kevin saw a need and decided to fill it.
“I wanted to do something that I thought was sort of missing from the areas.”
After traveling and living all around the world, the Filipino American chef opened up Alkaline, his ramen restaurant in Norfolk, in 2018.
“The place that I really sort of refer to as my hometown is Japan; we lived in Japan for six years. And all those years were like kind of the formative years of my life.”
The self-proclaimed Navy brat grew up eating a range of foods, from traditional Filipino dishes like lumpia and chicken adobo, to American grilled cheese and hot dogs, to Japanese sushi and ramen.
All of these shaping not only his palate, but also his world.
“So, Alkaline became this, you know... is based around ramen. But it also became this sort of like amalgamation of just what life as a first-generation Asian American looked like.”
He chose ramen because traditionally it’s an everyday meal in Japan, inexpensive, and filling.
“Ramen became an obvious choice to me, because, again, growing up in Japan, it was a food that I ate multiple times a week. Whether I was on base or off base, it was something that I sought out or something that I was interested in,” said Ordonez. “And it was sort of the equivalent of eating a grilled cheese sandwich for a regular, you know, American kid growing up.”
Everything featured on the menu is made in house - from the noodles to the broth.
And even though ramen is the protagonist, Alkaline also features the flavors of other Asian countries.
“We did lots of like Korean-inspired dishes, Chinese dishes, Taiwanese stuff, Filipino stuff, Japanese stuff. So, it's sort of like the street food section or the small plate section can be any sort of dish that we're interested in - in trying out and developing that is, like, inspired from somewhere.”
Kevin says he never set out to be a traditional ramen restaurant, but he wanted to make food that reflected who he is.
His plates are nontraditional but still authentic.
“I wanted to make a place and a restaurant that represented me and people like me - both young people and minorities and people who are jumping into business for the first time; or young cooks, or whatever they are, you know - people trying to find themselves in their own voice.”
Alkaline will be having a special event coming up later this month!
Kevin tells us it will be a fun time, heavily focusing on Filipino-inspired dishes blended with classic brunch-style menu items to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Month.
If you’re interested and would like to take a look at the menu, below are some of the details:
- What it is: A fun brunch with heavily focused Filipino-inspired dishes blended with classic brunch style menu items
- Date: May 29, 2022
- Time: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
- Location: Alkaline, 742 W 21st Street, Norfolk, Va.
- Goal: to promote Filipino culture and celebrate the end of Asian American and Pacific Islander Month
- Menu highlights: Turon Foster's Pancakes, Corned Beef Sisig Hash, Cheddar Biscuits with Bicol Express Gravy, Palabok Eggs Benedict, Blueberry Coconut Bibingka and Leche Flan Eclairs. (Menu is subject to change)
Alkaline will not be offering its regular menu during brunch. The restaurant will close from 2-4 p.m. to reset, then it will be open from 4-9 p.m. for regular dinner service and regular menu offerings.
For more on them, you can check out their website here.