When Princeton students returned to campus this fall, the Nassau Street locations of Mochinut and Ani Ramen, two casual chain restaurants located near the Princeton Garden Theater, had closed after being open for less than a year. Other locations of each chain remain open.
Mochinut offered a variety of flavors of mochi donuts, rice-flour batter-coated hotdogs, and bubble tea drinks. Ani Ramen served ramen bowls, rice bowls, and bao buns, among other Japanese meals.
The Daily Princetonian obtained routine inspection reports from the Princeton Health Department that found Mochinut and Ani Ramen to be in violation of numerous public health protocols designed to prevent foodborne illnesses. The reports also found that both establishments had several risk factors that posed a danger to public health. Both restaurants were rated “Conditionally Satisfactory,” and it is unclear whether the health inspections and closure are related.
The report, based on a risk-based inspection of Mochinut and Ani Ramen on March 30, 2023, revealed that management and personnel were documented as being “out of compliance” with multiple metrics.
According to the report, “Kitchen staff [lack] knowledge of food safety basic[s]. All staff handling foods must be trained on food safety basic[s in] the next 14 days, as per the Princeton sanitary code.”
The report said that both establishments lacked preventative measures against food contamination in the handwashing department. While the report on March 30 noted that handwashing facilities were provided in bathrooms and were “convenient,” “accessible,” and “unobstructed,” handwashing itself did not occur in compliance with standards that require employees to do so “prior to work, after using the restroom.”
A follow-up comment summarizing the report’s findings recommends that employees review and implement basic hygiene practices.
The report summary references specific conditions within Ani Ramen and Mochinut that reflect a lack of compliance with various public health measures.
“Ice machine observed with heavy accumulation of dirt and filth,” reads one comment.
“Knife dirty to sight and touch,” reads another comment, corroborating the report that Mochinut and Ani Ramen were not compliant in protecting food from cross-contamination by ensuring that all “equipment food-contact surfaces and utensils shall be clean to sight and touch.”
Mochinut and Ani Ramen were also found to be in violation of rules around how food itself is stored and handled. The “proper separation of raw meats and raw eggs” did not occur and food was not protected from contamination, nor were surfaces in regular contact with food sufficiently cleaned or sanitized.
According to the report, food was also in non-compliance and not properly labeled, nor was it “protected from contamination during preparation, storage, and display.” Furthermore, “garbage and refuse” were not properly maintained within the store premises and food temperature-measuring devices were not “properly calibrated.”
At the top of the risk-inspection report, the overall conditions of Mochinut and Ani Ramen in terms of adhering to environmental health and safety standards are described as “Conditionally Satisfactory.”
When Mochinut and Ani Ramen first opened to the public in 2022, the risk-based inspection report that year reported both venues to be in compliance with standard protocols. Specifically, during a routine inspection conducted by the Princeton Health Department on Nov. 28, 2022, both of the establishments were deemed “satisfactory” in the report summary.
After hearing about the report and closings, Angel Tang ’27 said, “I mean, it doesn’t matter to me that much … I don’t think I need Mochinut every day.”
Amy Ciceu is a senior News writer for the ‘Prince.’
Ethan Caldwell is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’
Please send any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.
Correction: This article previously named an affiliate of the business who was not reached out to for comment. The ‘Prince’ regrets this oversight.