When her husband’s job brought them to Westchester earlier this year, Nikki Lee knew they had to live in Peekskill.
“It has the edge” that makes it stand out from the suburbs across the county, she said.
Fast-forward to present day and Lee is pouring her creativity into RameNesque, an eatery on Main Street that offers Japanese casual dining and a café. She opened shop earlier this month.
A native of Korea who was trained as a fashion designer, Lee—who lived in Hong Kong previously—loves to cook. She’s taught herself to whip up a wide variety of food. European cuisine is her favorite, but she knew she needed something different if she wanted to open an eatery in Peekskill.
“French would not work,” she said. “It has to be Japanese and it will work.”
Lee “researched and researched” because she wanted to perfect the restaurant’s staple dish: ramen, a noodle soup that’s a favorite in Japan. A combination of a consommé of chicken and a fish flake dashi, Lee’s simmers for hours each day. Her favorite is the Shoyu, which is flavored with pork or chicken.
The menu also includes a salmon entree, curry items, sushi and more. Appetizers range from sashimi to salad to miso soup.
Her goal was to open a place where people could come in for casual food or a cup of coffee in pleasant atmosphere. Lee did the interior decorating herself. It features exposed brick, deep blue walls and black floors. A bookcase with daily newspapers sits in a hallway between the two seating areas with a chalkboard hanging above. It reads:
“Without freedom, no art: Art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others. –Albert Camus”
She hand painted delicate trees on two of the interior doors, too.
Other decisions Lee made when opening the restaurant include using fresh produce and natural flavor enhancers; the kitchen is free of MSG, artificial ingredients and ready-made products. The take-out containers, cutlery and shopping bags are mostly biodegradable and compostable. And she’s hiring only Peekskill residents.
“Because I work here, I serve people here and I think it has to be localized,” she said.
The space that houses RameNesque used to be Nellie’s Café. Lee said she’s heard great feedback from folks so far, and she even has a couple of regulars already.
RameNesque is located at 1008 Main Street in Peekskill. The hours right now are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (coffee, tea, drinks and pastries are served in the morning). The telephone number is 914-930-1788.