George Itoh, the co-owner of beloved Deep Ellum ramen shop Ichigoh Ramen Lounge, has died.
Itoh passed suddenly on Sunday, April 25, following a stroke, according to a GoFundMe account established to raise funds for his family. According to the Dallas Observer, Itoh came to Dallas after growing up in rural Wisconsin, where he got his start working in sushi and hibachi restaurants before moving to New York City, where he worked as a video producer and helmed the kitchen at an outpost of Japanese ramen chain Ippudo.
Itoh moved to Dallas in 2016, and a couple years later, he and business partner Andy Tam opened Ichigoh in the Deep Ellum space that formerly housed another ramen shop, called Tanoshii, in 2019. Following its debut, the restaurant earned rave reviews from both diners and critics alike for its flavorful bowls of ramen packed with springy noodles and excellent garnishes.
Following the news of his death, fellow Dallas chefs Donny Sirisavath (Khao Noodle Shop) and Jimmy Niwa (Niwa Japanese Barbecue) launched a GoFundMe with the intent of raising $20,000 for Itoh’s family. Itoh is survived by his wife Mie, a familiar face at Ichigoh Ramen Lounge, and two daughters, Emma and Reiya.
He was the heart and soul of this ramen shop that Dallas was gifted,” the GoFundMe reads. “His time may have been limited in Dallas, but his desire to bring true Japanese ramen was what he worked hard for. While the pandemic brought hardship, George transitioned to more of a mom-and-pop business model with his wife Mie, who ran the business as a team along side with their daughters.”
On Wednesday, May 5, Niwa and Sirisavath will host a memorial for Itoh at Deep Ellum Art Company from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., complete with noodles and yakitori skewers from both restaurants. Tickets for the event are priced at $25, and all proceeds will go to benefit Itoh’s family.
Ichigoh has not yet announced its plans to move forward following Itoh’s death. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.