Was Hapa Ramen a Victim of Blog Buzz?
It took us a day to digest Andrew Simmons' brilliant, sharp-toothed account on Bay Area Bites of Saturday's Hapa Ramen pop-up at Coffee Bar. The bowl of ramen Simmons leaned over to slurp, after four hours of waiting, was crappy, for sure. But it was the buzz machine itself that went down rough that night with Simmons, the Internet echo chamber that can amplify a pop-up soft opening like a bullhorn chant. What's a guy like Hapa's Richie Nakano to do? You want maximum buzz for a pre-launch business, but maximum buzz can drive 500 noodle-soup seekers to wait, taste, and skew bitchy ― just ask Jackson Scarlet. What's the solution. Is there a solution? In the old days of print, restaurant critics had to observe at least a six-week moratorium on visits to new places for the purpose of judging. These days, six weeks is enough for buzz to go cold, like a bowl of ramen ferried to Coffee Bar's farthest reaches. And judgment? It's swift, baby.