Whole Foods Blithedale and Philadelphia-based Genji takes their longtime collaboration to new level with standalone ramen restaurant between Pet Food Express and the U.S. Post Office.

A 20-year-old partnership is taking its relationship to the next level here in Mill Valley.

Whole Foods Market and Genji, a company that started as a Japanese restaurant in Philadelphia but now operates sushi bars in more than 190 Whole Foods Markets across the U.S., including both Mill Valley stores, have teamed up for Tam Tam Ramen, a new restaurant in the Alto Plaza shopping center that marks the pair’s first-ever collaboration outside the confines of a Whole Foods store.

The restaurant, whose moniker pays homage to Mount Tamalpais, opened its doors last week in the 2,200-square-foot space between Pet Food Express and the U.S. Post Office that was briefly occupied by Smash Burger and by Caffe Oggi for more than two decades before that.

“This is a big step forward for us and highlights our partnership of 20 years,” says Di Di Nguyen, Genji’s marketing manager. “It’s the first time that Genji and Whole Foods are partnering on a restaurant outside of a Whole Foods’ store. We’re looking forward to staying very connected to our local community here in Mill Valley.”

Genji, named after the title character in “The Tale of Genji,” the first Japanese novel ever written, started out as a restaurant in the Center City section of Philadelphia in the mid-1980s by grocer-turned-restaurateur Hideo Omori. Whole Foods approached Genji to operate sushi bars in some of their stores, and the partnership blossomed as Whole Foods expanded across the country. Japanese restaurant business Peace Dining Corporation acquired Genji in 2005, and 11 years later, the company expanded its partnership with Whole Foods to include ramen bars.

The first of those opened inside Whole Foods Market Santa Clara last summer.

Tam Tam Ramen’s menu include some classic ramen offerings like Yuzu Chicken, Original Tonkotsu, Spicy Miso Tonkotsu, and Veggie Ramen, as well as sliders like grilled chicken teriyaki, chashu pork and shrimp tempura. Tam Tam Ramen has a pair of “signature” bowls in the Truffle Snow Crab and Tam Tam Ramen. 

The 411: Tam Tam Ramen is at 731 East Blithedale in the Alto Plaza shopping center. It’s open seven days, 11am-8pm.

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