Tasty ramen is easier to find now that Hangar Bay Café and Gallery has taken up residence in Mayport. I sat down and talked with owner Chris Straw, then had a bowl of my favorite Hell Fire Ramen.
What brought you to Jacksonville?
I came here as a result of my training in the Navy.
Why Hangar Bay?
It came about because I needed a job. Having been in the area a long time, I though there was no ramen or fried chicken available at any of the restaurants. I believe military people had a greater propensity to appreciate ramen because of the possibility of being stationed overseas, and who doesn’t like fried chicken. So I took the chance and put them together.
What makes Hangar Bay Special?
It is special for several reasons; first the dedicated military motif, the second combining chicken and ramen on the same menu, this usually leaves people with a shoulder shrug and a question mark. If they can get past that paradigm, they are quite pleased.
What other foods do you serve?
The newest dish is Shrimp and Grits; it’s still a work in progress. There are about five sandwiches that are unique; they are more of a filler to round out the menu. It offers something to the customer that may want to dine here several times a week.
How long did it take to develop the menu?
It is slightly different from the opening, but we did start with just chicken, ramen, sandwiches, and fish. Seventy-five percent of the menu is what we had originally. Most of the changes made were for ease of ordering, or clarity.
Where do you get the recipes?
From the internet.
What would you recommend to a new customer?
Most people order the chicken and ramen, but many want something different. I try to feel them out to help them decide. Sixty percent of the diners already know what they want coming in the door.
Any hidden gems on the menu that people overlook?
All the time, people often miss the livers and gizzards, for people that like them it’s here for the asking. Those who like shrimp or cod, we lightly bread them by hand, they are super delicious. The biggest overlooked item the fried biscuits. People are familiar with the baked biscuit, but for some reason, they have a problem wrapping their heads around fried.
What wold recommend for some on who want a little more adventure in their meal?
The new fireball ramen the spiciest ramen we offer. The Mark Fifty a tasty Po Boy, and our homemade sauces.
Do you have a particular audience for your food?
Let me say this; I think our customer is someone who wants something different, not uptight about atmosphere or location and does not take themselves too seriously.