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Exhibition of Japanese Ceramics Inspires New Products in UMMA Cafe, Shop

Exhibition of Japanese Ceramics Inspires New Products in UMMA Cafe, Shop

To commemorate the upcoming exhibition Clay as Soft Power: Shigaraki Ware in Postwar America and Japan, the UMMA Cafe and UMMA Shop will be featuring some new Japanese and Japanese-inspired products.

The UMMA Cafe is set to start serving the Japanese staple dish of ramen, a noodle soup flavored either with shoyu (also known as soy sauce) or miso, a savory seasoning made of fermented soybean paste. Ramen, which has many regional varieties throughout East Asia, typically includes meat (the UMMA Cafe will offer chicken and tofu varieties) alongside a large variety of vegetables.

The Cafe will also feature various kinds of sushi, including California rolls (containing cucumber, crab, and avocado), rainbow rolls (tuna, salmon and avocado), spicy firecracker shrimp, and dragon rolls (eel, cucumber, and avocado). “I expect the rainbow roll to be popular,” said Storm Saddler, UMMA Cafe Manager. “It offers a good variety of different flavors in one roll, and it's colorful. We love that here at UMMA.”

UMSFP Underground Zine Animation

In addition to the food, the UMMA Cafe’s menu will be expanding its Japanese beverage options. Matcha lattes (hot or iced) have been available for some time already, but other types of green tea (including Hojicha Kukicha, a sweet and nutty-flavored green tea) will also be served. Many of these teas, including ceremonial matcha, will also be for sale in the UMMA Shop.

Out of all the food in the UMMA Cafe, Saddler is most excited about the ramen. “It's been a lengthy process of sourcing product, getting a recipe built that will be accommodating of our space, and testing,” they said. “But it'll all be worth it to have a hot bowl of ramen during the cold month of December!”

For visitors who may get inspired to make their own ramen at home, the UMMA Shop is also selling ceramic ramen bowls. Chopsticks are also available, as well as packets of spicy noodles from Momofuku. (According to a reviewer at VICE: “These noodles slap. Savory, salty, spicy, with a touch of sweet, they go above and beyond hitting the spot, and my taste buds were truly dazzled.”) To provide some inspiration for toppings, the Shop also has a few different ramen cookbooks, as well as condiments traditional to Japanese ramen.

In the Shop, visitors will also be able to find a large variety of Japanese stationery, including pens, pencils, and notebooks. There’s also a section of puzzles featuring Japanese designs, such as the art of Katsushika Hokusai.

Neil Van Houten, UMMA’s Retail Operations Manager, says he expects to have some additional surprises available later this winter, but has dealt with supply chain issues since the pieces are shipped from Japan. He said he was excited to be able to feature so many Japanese products, and pointed out two vintage silk kimonos as among his favorites in the shop right now.

He also noted a plan to fill the shop window with dozens of origami cranes, advertising the variety of colorful paper packs available. “I’m going to have my staff fold them all, since they need some stress relief,” he joked. “We’ve been so busy getting this set up. But it’s exciting.”

Clay as Soft Power opens on November 12th, and runs through mid-May, 2023. 

Clay as Soft Power

Shigaraki Ware in Postwar America and Japan

View Exhibition