Sun didn't saturate the market with one giant factory spewing out tons of a single product. You may have been to two different ramen shops in different cities, or even right next to each other, and not realized that the noodles were made in the same factory. Instead, the company made their mark with customization —tailoring every aspect of the detailed ramen production process to each of their customer's specific needs.
The Sun Noodle story starts in Honolulu, Hawaii, in a one-room factory in an industrial part of town. It was where Hidehito Uki first began making noodles in 1981. Hidehito came from Tochigi, Japan at the age of 19 with one suitcase and a noodle machine. He named his new business Sun Noodle after the sunny skies of his new home.
Hidehito spoke just a few words of English, so he communicated through his noodles, bringing samples door-to-door to prospective customers every day. He made them thick or thin, wavy or chewy — each restaurant had a noodle to call its own.
Hidehito met his wife, Keiko, at the restaurant she owned down the street from Sun Noodle’s factory. Soon after they were married, she joined the business and the two became a true team. Hidehito made noodles in the morning and delivered them in the afternoon, while Keiko balanced the books and managed their small staff.
As Sun Noodle grew, so did the family. Hidehito and Keiko’s first daughter Jamie was born, followed by their second daughter Hisae, and their son Kenshiro. The Uki children spent much of their childhood at the factory, taste-testing samples, packaging noodles, and learning to cook homemade Japanese food.
Business flourished, and Sun Noodle started shipping to the West Coast and Vancouver, Canada in the early 90s. Hidehito began expanding his product line: quick-cook noodles for airline meals and cafeterias, and gyoza skins for local restaurants.
After a few years in California, Kenshiro spearheaded Sun Noodle’s move to the East Coast. His sister Hisae joined the family business and began working at the factory in L.A.
Celebrity chefs like Momofuku’s David Chang, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and Marcus Samuelsson came knocking, putting Sun Noodle on the map for the East Coast and European markets.
As ramen gained in popularity, Sun Noodle established Ramen Lab in 2014, a ramen counter in the Nolita neighborhood of New York City dedicated exclusively to teaching people about different types of ramen. Ramen Lab’s pop-up concept brings guest chefs from around the world to share their ramen creations.
To keep up with the global demand for fresh noodles, Sun Noodle built a 46,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art factory in New Jersey, increasing its East Coast operations eightfold.
Today, Sun Noodle has more than 600 wholesale and retail products to its name. With factories in Honolulu, Hawaii; Rancho Dominguez, California; and Carlstadt, New Jersey, it produces more than 180,000 servings of noodles per day.
According to Sun Noodle