Matsudai Ramen at The Bank

Investment Executive
Growing a business

James Chant’s traditional Japanese Ramen restaurant is taking the Cardiff food scene by storm after his assemble-at-home DIY ramen kits gained critical acclaim from culinary heroes including Jay Rayner, Tom Parker Bowles, Melissa Thompson and Pippa Middlehurst.

Based in the former NatWest bank on Clare Road in Grangetown, Matsudai Ramen opened its doors in August 2022. The 1700 sq ft building has been kitted out with a £50,000 micro loan from the Development Bank of Wales.

Matsudai Ramen first started life in September 2019; initially as a pop-up and creative outlet for founder James Chant, who at that point had never set foot in a professional kitchen. As Wales’ first and only purveyors of proper, no-corners-cut ramen, Matsudai was immediately incredibly popular, with events selling out in just minutes - but needed to adapt quickly when the pandemic arrived in 2020.

Not to be discouraged, the cult ramen crew began producing ramen kits, and at the start of 2021 launched a national delivery service. Since then Matsudai has delivered over 20,000 kits throughout the UK. The team have been featured in articles in the Observer, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Independent and BBC Good Food with James also being invited to appear in a video with cult YouTuber Uncle Roger. This has now been viewed over six million times.

When lockdown restrictions started lifting in summer 2021 Matsudai headed out 'on tour', with sell-out pop-ups across the UK, including a stint in London, where Matsudai took over the kitchen of the British Film Institute in Soho for a month. Then, in August 2022 with the help of the Development Bank, James opened Wales' first ramen restaurant in Grangetown, Cardiff. 

With 70 covers and now employing 24 staff, Director James Chant says Matsudai Ramen at The Bank has been packed out since opening: “The DIY kits are still an important part of our offering but we’ve been blown away by how well the restaurant is doing.

“The Grangetown community has been so welcoming and we’re just very grateful to the Development Bank for helping to fund our passion for great ramen. In less than three years, we’ve grown from a pop-up restaurant to a renowned business with exciting potential for future growth.”

Investment Executive Donna Strohmeyer of the Development Bank of Wales said: “The flexibility of our micro loans makes them ideal for growing businesses like Matsudai who want to take the next step on their journey.

“James has built a loyal following in a short period of time with Matsudai becoming the go-to for traditional Japanese Ramen. The delivery business is thriving with restaurant quality ramen kits and now the restaurant is a welcome addition to Grangetown as a flourishing multicultural food destination.”

Micro loans between £1,000 and £50,000 are available from the Development Bank of Wales with repayment terms ranging from one to ten years. Small businesses, sole traders and social enterprises based in Wales, or willing to move here can apply for the funding that includes a fast-track service.