Article By: Karen Gardner
Photos By: Josh Triggs
Bubble Tea or Build-a-Bowl? Your palate is in for a treat at the Green Pineapple in Shepherdstown, home of Korean fusion food.
Ramen noodles, that staple of college life, gets a fresh treatment at the Green Pineapple, where owner Shane Broadwater serves them in homemade broth with your choice of toppings.
“We serve the younger crowd. Our crowd is mainly from middle school, high school and college kids to older people who like our food and drinks.”
The Green Pineapple is located in a building that was once part of another restaurant, The Pharmacy, where Broadwater worked when he was younger. The shop went through a couple of other identities before he decided it would be a good space for his café. He had done a lot of traveling, and thought a shop devoted to bubble tea and other fun drinks, along with some Korean fusion food, would do well in Shepherdstown.
“A lot of stuff in town is basic bar food, which is nice,” he said. “But there’s not really a diverse selection of food other than the Thai place. I thought it would be nice to bring in some culture that didn’t really exist here.”
The Green Pineapple attracts college students during the day, and by mid-afternoon, middle and high school students start coming in. “They like the vibe,” he said.
He has gradually added in more food to his offerings. “Some of the recipes are stuff my mom used to make,” he said. He learned to cook from his mom, but his other training is mostly self-taught through experimentation.
He has worked in other restaurants, and learned cooking techniques. “I just dove in,” he said. “I don’t have a deep fryer.” He cooks with little fat, and when he uses oil, it’s usually high quality sesame oil.
Broadwater and a fellow cook do all the cooking in the restaurant. In two large kettles are ramen noodles in broth. He serves handmade ramen that is made in Washington, D.C. “Traditional ramen is essentially ramen noodles in a house-made broth with toppings,” usually vegetables and meat. It is served hot.
He makes the broth each day. “It takes an hour or two every morning, but it’s worth it,” he said.
“You have to strain everything so it doesn’t get too strong.” Instant broth has an artificial taste, he said. “It may take a little longer, but it tastes so much better.”
He likes using fresh vegetables in everything. Sushi rolls are bursting with vegetables. Menu offerings emphasize mashups. There is the Sushirito, the Build-A-Bowl, Korean Nachos, Korean Steak Tacos, Kimchi grilled cheese and Korean cheese steak.
As Broadwater works in his tiny kitchen, he explains that there isn’t a lot of room to store food, so most items are freshly made.
His sister lives on the West Coast, and he sampled lots of Asian fusion food while on visits there. His biggest limitation in the restaurant is the small size. It’s a long, slender storefront that faces the corner of German and Princess streets. There’s a large storefront window that looks out on passersby.
Inside, the restaurant is clean and open. The walls are bright white. Modern artwork is displayed, some of it for sale. Blue mason jars decorate one windowsill. There is a bright, clean feel to the atmosphere. The high, pressed tin ceiling is also painted white. A large chalkboard near the entrance is for doodling.
The menu is also printed neatly on a large chalkboard over the counter where drinks are made. Between menu items are neat little artistic flourishes. A cooler of cucumber water sits invitingly on the counter.
There are a few tables, and lots of counter seating. The hardwood floor is expansive. There’s lots of room for milling about and socializing.
Broadwater is happy with the reception his restaurant has gotten in Shepherdstown. He’s open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, so he gets a variety of people throughout the day. “It’s a lot different from a nine to five job, but I enjoy it here,” he said.