Beyond Maruchan: NYC Ramen RundownCategory: Food Porn   Apr 23rd 2014  10:24AM   0

Ippudo's Karakamen. [Photograph: Jamie Feldmar

In a previous post, I mentioned how a hot ramen bowl can instantly restore my faith in humanity. This past winter and spring have been so darn cold, so I have been eating more than usual. How comforting it is to twirl the delicate noodles around my chopsticks and slurp the hearty broth from an enormous bowl, its' warmth filling my belly.

My first inclination is say there is no wrong way to do ramen - mushroom, seaweed, meat, cabbage, egg, corn - whatever feels good.  However, a recent to visit one of Chinatown's lesser ramen shops has proven me wrong (the rubbery eel and inauthentic, cheap spaghetti noodles of Ajisen Noodle were cause for a refund demand, were I not pressed for time. I took a business card just so I would remember to warn my readers to stay away). 

When I am in need of lunchtime yummyness on the go, Whole Foods Bowery's Yuji Test Kitchen's crowd-pleasing mazeman- or brothless ramen is a winner. If you don't mind a 45 minute wait (with reservations) in cacophonous din, Ippudo West's Akamaru Modern is well worth it. At the insistence of my lovely date Kara, we ordered the braised pork belly add-on; a juicy and fatty interior with a perfect exterior crust. Their soy sauce-preserved egg is hands-down the best I ever tasted; the custard like texture gave my ramen a pleasant & velvety mouth feel. 

Kambi's Korean-style kimchi miso ramen and jubilant service revitalized me during what was an otherwise disappointing day. Beware, the spicy selection boasts a very rich, make-you-sweat broth that is not for the weak of heart. Fortunately, the staff vigilantly fills your water glass with a knowing wink and smile. If you want to hang with one of the cool kids in school, try the Tondaku Wadashi Ramen at Bassanova. Its' intense dried, smoked fish flavors will soothe that oft-craved umami fix. The menu is pared down, but imaginative. Do not underestimate Bassanova's genius.

Hop on the 7 train to Sunnyside queens and get a fill of Natural Tofu & Noodles' Vietnamese rice noodle. Yes, its not ramen, but I may not get another opportunity to talk about noodles(!). The simple but flavorful broth creates the perfect backdrop for succulent rice threads and handmade meatballs. Toss in the bean sprouts, jalapenos, cilantro and lemon provided and it becomes smile-inducing love in a bowl.

Enjoying steaming bowls of ramen will be the only thing I will miss about winter.





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