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Meet Zac Maywood of Ramen Zac

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zac Maywood.

Zac, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a kid growing up in the States I had only ever been exposed to packaged instant ramen that was available in the grocery store. Maruchan instant noodles to be exact. I ate this stuff all the way through college. During my college years, it was a staple of my diet. It wasn’t until a trip to Japan in 2016 where my ramen obsession really began.

During this trip, I was exposed to truly delicious bowls of ramen. One afternoon my family and I made our way to the Ramen Museum in Yokohama. Yokohama is about an hour south of Tokyo center. When you walk into the museum you walk downstairs to find the ramen. Downstairs, you are transported back in time where you see a bunch of unique ramen shops in a 1950’s era city setting. All of these ramen shops are focusing on their own style of ramen.

We pick a couple of shops to try several different bowls of ramen. I was saying “DELICIOUS, MIND BLOWING, I’M HOOKED”. It was here that I realized that ramen comes in many different styles. Both can be made from a wide variety of things like pork bones to nothing but vegetables. It can be thick or light. Noodles can be flat or wavy, thick or thin, chewy or hard. And top the ramen with anything you like. The number of possible combinations is unlimited, making possible a bowl of ramen that anyone in the world can enjoy.

After sampling several bowls of ramen, we make our way back upstairs to the gift shop. In the shop, there is a section in which you can pick various ingredients to make your own box of ramen. After handpicking ingredients for my custom ramen, they took a photo of me in a chef jacket. This photo is put on the front of the box of ramen I just created.

Written on my box in Japanese was “Ramen Zac” along with the picture of me in the chef jacket. I felt like a professional, even though I was FAR from it. After the visit to the ramen museum, I did some exploring on Instagram. I discovered an entire culture of people crazy about ramen and sharing their ramen moments with the world. People were as fanatical about ramen as I had just become. This was awesome and I was inspired. This was where I decided that my Instagram account would be nothing but ramen. I used my ramen zac chef photo as my profile picture and started sharing all of my ramen photos.

And through my Instagram, I’ve actually had the opportunity to meet fellow ramen fanatics in real life. I think few people can say they’ve made international friends through interest on Instagram. Shortly after getting back from this trip to Japan a new work opportunity presented itself to me in Los Angeles. My wife and I had been living in San Francisco and had been talking about relocating to LA for a couple of years. It was perfect. I jumped on the work opportunity and have ZERO regrets. There is so much more ramen in LA than SF.

Living in LA affords me an opportunity, at least once a week, to explore one of the many local ramen shops and write about them. There are still tons of shops that I haven’t been to and I look forward to documenting those experiences and sharing. All of these shops seem to be doing something unique, so I’m never eating the same bowl of ramen each week. In LA I’m getting to experience the wide spectrum of ramen I mentioned earlier. I’m like a kid in candy store. Except, I’m an adult with a bunch of ramen to eat.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Figuring out my own writing style for my blog has been a challenge. When I started writing I would write about what I was doing before I went to the ramen shop, describe who I was with, why I picked the place, etc. It was all over the place. But lately, I’ve really been focusing on just highlighting the ramen by describing it as best I can. I think that’s what people are really interested in. “Zac, tell me what the ramen is like”.

Another challenge was just getting my blog up and running. I work pretty long hours in front of the computer during the day and the last thing I wanted to do in the evening was spend more time in front of a monitor to set up my site. It took me a couple of months to actually get up and running from the time I registered my domain and got my hosting service.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Ramen Zac – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Eating and writing about the ramen that I’ve discovered in LA.

I’m proud of the fact that when I tell friends and family what I’m up to, their eyes light up and immediately ask me a ton of questions. Everyone thinks it’s so cool that I’ve shared my ramen experiences with them and they know someone that can point them to ramen shops. I’ve had several people reach out to me for recommendations when they visit LA.

I’m not aware of anyone else as focused on the LA ramen scene as I am. I’ve seen a handful of articles online with “ramen shops that you can’t miss” or “top 10 shops in 2016”. But no one is really writing about “all” the ramen in the area. That’s me.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
For my blog, I’d like to produce more video content to share my ramen experiences. I also see a need for a phone app that is solely dedicated to ramen reviews in the US. I look forward to building that out over the next year. It would also be cool to partner up with some other ramen nerds and open up a new ramen shop.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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