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The Story of Naruto 88: From Rackets to Ramen

In the heart of Kendall, Florida, right off 88th Street, lies Naruto 88, a culinary gem that has taken the Miami community by storm. The mastermind behind this culinary haven is none other than Tin Chen, a man whose journey from aspiring tennis player to successful restaurateur is nothing short of inspiring.

Tin Chen, the owner of Naruto 88 in front of his restaurant
Tin Chen in front of his restaurant, Naruto 88

At 18, Tin Chen left Taiwan for the U.S. with dreams of becoming a professional tennis player. However, life had other plans for him, and he soon realized that relying on tennis wouldn't sustain his bigger dreams. Determined to make ends meet, he took up a job as a host in various restaurants. Little did he know that his experience in the restaurant industry would ignite a passion for creating his own restaurant.

Driven by his love for both food and anime, Chen had a new dream: to open a restaurant that paid homage to his favorite childhood anime, Naruto.

The Pan Fried Pork Bao Bun
Pan Fried Pork Bao Buns, a Customer Favorite

Naruto 88 became the embodiment of Chen's dreams. He poured his heart, soul, and savings into this venture, ensuring every detail reflected the anime that shaped his youth. To Chen, his chefs were not mere cooks but "artists" who crafted each dish with precision and creativity. Chen has always been adamant about making each item look as good as it tastes.

One such masterpiece is the Pan Fried Pork Bao Buns, a fan favorite that combines a fluffy bun stuffed with sweet steamed pork filling and topped with salty strips of grilled BBQ pork. The combination of flavors and textures made it an instant hit with diners.

However, it was the Ichiraku Ramen that stole the show. Chen's deep love for ramen inspired him to feature this dish as the star attraction on his menu.

The Tonkotsu broth, simmers for three days with a generous helping of Saké, a Japanese rice wine. It's then paired with a Nitamago egg, corn, edamame, scallions and of course, their signature fish cake. Customers have even begged Chen to sell them just the broth itself.

Through his journey, Chen's most important lesson was finding valuable partners. He couldn't have done it without the help of his business partner and his wife. Their individual strengths enabled Chen to take Naruto 88 to different heights in terms of decor, management and taste. Currently, Chen and his team are working on another spin-off restaurant, along with two boba shops, spreading authentic Taiwanese flavors across Miami.

"You have to have a lot of people to handle different positions," said Chen, "that's why I have my three; we trust each other and have the same mindset."

The success of Naruto 88 can be attributed not just to its delectable dishes but also to the passion, love and dedication of its creator, Tin Chen. From his early days on the tennis court to embracing the restaurant world, Chen's story is a testament to the power of following one's dreams, even if the path takes unexpected turns.

Today, Naruto 88 is one of the best ramen spots in South Florida. The spark of nostalgia ignites joy in anime fans and food enthusiasts' hearts. Tin Chen's extraordinary journey reminds us that sometimes the most exceptional adventures arise from the unlikeliest beginnings.


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