Posts Tagged With: Best Ramen in NYC

Pssss… I Have a New Favorite Ramen Spot

Mentoku

Mentoku

I hope I find you readers well, and I hope this stays just between us.  As much as I like my places to stay the same, my mama always taught me that “Sharing is Caring”.  I shared my only toy, a plastic green soldier with my friends, including the friend who introduced me to cigarettes at the coming of age 5 (I quit when I turned 6, and swore off cigarettes forever.  True story).  Up until three months ago or so my go-to Ramen spot has been the Totto branch on 51st/10th, right across the Falafel Nazi Azuri Cafe.  After over a dozen visits to Totto, with the occasional cheating with the great Ippudo Akamaru and Ivan, I’ve gone exploring yet again for that great Ramen bowl in the Kitchen of Hell.  Enter little Mentoku on 9th ave.

Mentoku is not your prototypical Hell’s Kitchen Ramen that is buzzy, with the occasional painful waits, less than comfortable seating, and quick eat.  You can actually spend more than 5 minutes here while enjoying soft Jazz.  There’s one cook, and there’s usually one or two waitresses running the “front”.  And more importantly, I have never seen the place too full to enjoy.  Whether by myself at the counter, or with co-workers, every visit has been comfortable and relaxing, a rarity in NYC Ramen world.  “Akanoren” is proudly displayed on the sign outside, and according to this blogger, its a Ramen chain in Japan.Mentoko Yuzu-Kosho

The specialty here is Hakata style Tokotsu Ramen, where the pork is slowly cooked at high temperatures.  This means the meat and the fat dissolves into the soup more, creating a rich, but smooth base.  Meaning its rich, but not one of those super rich, guilt-filled bowls that makes you want to start smoking again as you declare this day the beginning of the end of your life.  You coming out of there feeling good, which to me is what Ramen is all about.

I started my relationship with Mentoku with the mild and pleasant Tinkichi, but its the Yuzu-Kosho that does it for me now.  The hot Yuzu paste delivers an initial punch but settles down nicely into a very pleasant bowl.  The Nori surrounding the bowl adds a nice fishy element as you smell it with each morsel, and the thin cut chashu is the way to go as far the pork belly goes.  I feel that some of the other guys slice them a little too thick.  Another big hit at Mentoku is their simple but incredibly juicy and flavorful fried chicken.

Mentoku will be added to the Survival Guide, while we say goodbye to short-lived Mocu Mocu.  Oh how I hoped the sisters succeed, but was always afraid that Hell’s Kitchen, and in particular that corner of 10th Ave, is simply not ready for this kind of Japanese.

Mentoku Chicken Mentoku Tonkichi

Advertisements
Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jun-Men Ramen – Come for Nails, Stay for Italian

fried rice Jun-men ramen

Photo by Jun-Men Ramen

The historic Ramen attack of the 21st century has been in full swing for a while now in Hell’s Kitchen, lower Manhattan, Queens, and parts of Brooklyn.  And it has now infiltrated the belly, the pork belly of NYC if you will, Chelsea. This is a fierce, no prisoners, noodle assault on a city already overrun.  Even those who dont specialize in Ramen succumb eventually and add it to the name (Puff Cha Ramen specializes in Thai curry Puffs, started as just Puff Cha.  Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen specializes in steamed buns.  Ivan Ramen is actually a Jew from Long Island called Ivan Orkin).  Its just a matter of time until this site is changed to Eating Ramen With Ziggy Ramen.  EWZ interns researchers report the Staten Island is perhaps the only place in NYC where 9 out 10 residents react with a “You mean like.. instant?” when asked for local Ramen advice.  The 10th will go “fughetaboutit” and direct you to his favorite eyetalian.  You could say that Ramen is the new Cialis of the NYC food scene.

Jun-Men Ramen OutDigress corner…  Have you ever wondered why our prime time TV is suddenly filled with erectile dysfunction commercials?  I have a new theory about this.  They are not targeting people who need it, but people who don’t.  Think about it.  Anyone who doesn’t know about Cialis or Viagra by now must be living under a rock.  So the only thing left is for the “Healthy” population to start playing mind tricks instead of the usual tricks.  Its becoming increasingly annoying especially when you watch TV with the kids.  But I digress…

Outside Jun-Men looks like a swanky nail spa, especially when someone sits by the door facing the right bar/reception.  Inside however, Jun-Men looks like a swanky nail spa with an open kitchen.  Plenty of Instagram friendly natural light, communal table in the middle provide nice space for you and your phone, and then there’s counter seating facing a small army of pork belly torcherers.  Drinks, apps, four Ramen items (one not really ramen, but more on that later), and two desserts are all listed on one idiot proof page.  Considering the place is new, the kitchen seems to run things smoothly.  On our last visit, the main (Ramen) came a few minutes after the half finished appetizer, and we were given the boot (check) before we were asked if we want dessert or anything else.  But those are minor quibbles that will be corrected, if not soon, as soon as the first angry Yelpers mention it.Jun-Men Ramen Pork Bone

In this Ramen infested city, blogging about ramen is no longer considered sexy.  While there’s definitely some fine Ramen at Jun-Men, the sexiness lies in the other dishes, one of which is pasta disguised as Ramen.  The Uni Mushroom Mazemen may be considered dry even for Mazemen standards.  Its a well crafted Pasta with mushrooms, salty pancetta, Porcini butter and truffle oil.  The lower quality uni is just there for Instagram.  I would order it with or without the uni.  The tasty Kimchi Ramen featured unramen like juicy bits of pork shoulder, along with a solid broth.  On the other hand, the Pork Bone on the last visit wasnt nearly as good.  A bit too rich, too funky, too fatty chashu for my taste.  The fried rice even with the too sweet Chinese sausage was one of the best fried rice in recent memory (7 days give or take), and priced very well considering the the crazy fried rice prices out there.  The good looking wings will be next on the agenda, and maybe even some Matcha flavored cheesecake.  Go!

(Terrible phone photo alert!)

Jun-Men Ramen
249 Ninth Ave
$$
Recommended Dishes: Fried Rice, Uni Mushroom, Kimchi Ramen

Jun-Men Ramen

Uni Jun-Men Ramen

Borrowed from Jun-Men Ramen

Jun-Men Ramen Kimchi

 

 

Categories: Chelsea, New York City | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Ivan the Formidable

Ivan Ramen Salmon Donburi

September 22nd, 2017 Update:

I dont usually update a place this soon, but this is kinda important after yet another fine meal at Ivan Ramen LES.  Weather is getting chillier (or seemed to be a few weeks ago at least), and I cant think of a better way to start Ramen season.  The Chicken Paitan at Ivan is not the Ramen dish that made Ivan famous, but to me it’s right up there with NYC’s best at the moment.  As I described 6 months ago when it came out, “the richness and deliciousness of a Tonkotsu without the heaviness”.

A corn on a cob dish always gets my attention, and this one proved to be a wowzer.   Its Miso roasted with bonito flakes and some sort of Japanese magic dust sprinkled.  The fried chicken, brined perhaps, is another exceptional one.  The Coney Island Tofu with that miso mushroom chili has made it’s triumphant return to the menu.  Magnifique as always.  As is the Triple pork, triple garlic Mazemen (brothless ramen) which has been on the menu since day 1 but somehow eluded me all this time.  Being featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table hasnt made it easy, but reservations are doable.  Go!

March 5th, 2017 Update:

All sorts of major developments with the Ivan.  The Ramen Junkie keeps reinventing himself, and has even given us some bedtime entertainment.  Yes, Ivan Orkin is featured in the latest season of Netflix’s highly acclaimed Chef’s Table which I highly recommend.  Its refreshing to see someone on the show who you actually know and talk to from time to time.  Naturally the show helped revive his Lower East Side flagship in a big way.  And so if you havent been in a while, or never, prepare for a possible 2 hour shock on some evenings.  Yesterday I heard quotes ranging from 1 to 3 hours, albeit on a Saturday night.

Coincidentally, or not, the menus in both NYC spots have gotten a facelift as of late.  At the Slurp Shop however, at the moment looks more like a botched botox job.  The great Donburis (rice dishes including top) are long gone, and the sick Breakfast Ramen, changed to Breakfast All Day Ramen after they figured why not, is now gone too.  It cameod for a while last month only to see the same results.  Why is no one eating the good stuff.  Lack of appreciation, or people simply want the goods that made the man famous.  I say its the name of the dish.  Give it a cute Japanese name like Mocu Mocu and people will drive in forces.  Oh wait, they tried it already.  With that said, knowing these guys, another homerun is probably on its way.ivan-ramen-trumpet

But at the flagship, things are looking mighty fine these days.  I cant get on Instagram without seeing Ivan tease a new dish that looks infinitely better than what I’m eating (I’m looking at you quinoa).  Something like the brilliant briny Trumpet Mushrooms sliced like noodles, and served cold that I enjoyed last night.  This was a tip I got an hour earlier by the sous chef at Slurp Shop during yesterday’s Hell’s Kitchen tour (there he goes again with the shameless plugs).  Another new potential hit is the Dan Dan Noodles smothered with chili infused ground lamb.  It is probably the spiciest Dan Dan and one of the spiciest noodle dishes I ever had.  By the end I was waving a white flag which turned red by then.  It is purposefully dry and while delicious, I was longing for something wet to counter the heat.  But the most interesting newcomer is probably the dish I had on a previous night.  A bright and gorgeous Chicken Paitan with minced chicken and egg yolk.  It has all the richness and deliciousness of a Tonkotsu without the heaviness.  Its just like your moms chicken soup!  If mom went to culinary school for 10 years, moved to Japan and married the most famous Ramen maker in Tokyo that is.

August 24, 2014 Post:

We all heard the story before hundreds of times.  A Jew from Long Island moves to Japan to teach English, moves back to the states, attends The Culinary Institute of America, leaves his heart in Japan so comes back to Tokyo, gets bored out of his mind and learns how to cook Ramen (just about the last thing that crosses my mind when I’m bored).  So he opens the first restaurant in Tokyo, finds success and opens another… moves back to NYC to open the Slurp Shop at Gotham West market and the flagship Ivan Ramen in East Village.  10 months later, over a dozen visits to the Slurp Shop and over a dozen whitefish Donburis, two visits to the new joint in East Village, and needless to say… Ziggy is a fan of the Ivan.

The Slurp Shop

I’ve already written extensively about Hell’s Kitchen’s main attraction these days, Gotham West Market, the home of the first Ivan outpost.  The Slurp Shop is normally the last stop of my monthly food crawls.  Problem is by the time we get here more often than not, tummy is already full.  The menu settled down over the year and features some unique staples like…

Slow-Cooked Pork Donburi – Another fun rice concoction with super tender pork shoulder, scallion, salted plum wasabi, and chunky roasted tomatoes proving nice balance and much needed acidity.

Ivan Ramen - Pork Donburi

Roasted Garlic Mazemen – I must admit the Mazemen here is more exciting to me than the traditional Ramen.  Mazemen is almost brothless ramen, but packs in more flavor and intensity.  This one comes with Nori, dashi, chicken broth, pork belly chashu, and the same rye noodle as the traditional ramen.  Garlic lovers especially may find this dish quite formidable.  Yes, I’m officially adding formidable to my vocabulary.

Ivan Ramen - Garlic Mazemen

Ramen – I cant find any pictures of any of the Ramen I tried here.  Most likely due to the way I attack them once I see them.  I believe I tried all of them except the vegetarian one and all are quite good in their own way.  The Tokyo classics Shio and Shoyu are cleaner and purer than most of the modern Ramens out there.

Whitefish Donburi – Perhaps my favorite dish in GWM but admittedly not for everyone (what is really).  White rice mixed with sweet soy dashi and topped with cucumber, scallion, salmon roe, and beautiful smoked whitefish.  Jewish heritage meets Japanese school girl.  Or something like that

Ivan Ramen Whitefish Donburi

Ivan Ramen

Lower East Side is the new East Village.  I can spend a year here and eat something delicious and different every day.  The new Ivan Ramen flagship complicates things even further for those locals that cant decide whether they are in the mood for Burritos, Ribs, Ramen or Israeli Scotch Eggs.  This is more of a sit down than the Slurp Shop, which basically means slurping isnt as encouraged here.  And the menu is quite different and fuller…

Pickled Daikon – shaved daikon (the radish white milder shy cousine), dried shrimp, scallop chili oil.  I expected fishier flavors from the shrimp but it was more reminiscent texture wise of the most freakish tasting bread crumbs ever.  Get this!

Ivan Ramen Pickled Daik0n

Chinese Broccoli & Garlic – Another cold winner.  You taste the Broccoli with that sweet garlic soy sauce and go “well this is nice..”, but then you taste the pickled garlic and the world suddenly beginning to makes sense again

Ivan Ramen Chinese Broccoli & Garlic

Pork Meatballs – Its texturally impossible to come up with more tender balls.  Garnished with bonito flakes, buttermilk dressing, and Japans official unofficial sauce, Bulldog brown sauce.  Marvelous dish!  And no, I’m not adding “texturally” to my vocabulary because its not a real word

Ivan Ramen Pork Meatballs

Tofu Coney Island – A playful and enjoyable take on the Nathan Hotdog.  Fried tofu topped with miso mushroom chili, mustard, and scallion.  Enjoyed this one

Ivan Ramen Tofu Coney Island

Categories: Lower East Side, Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bassanova – Some Ramen are Better than Others

Bassanova YuzuApril 12th, 2015 Update:

I have mixed feelings about reblogging this one.  On one hand I have an important update on Bassanova (Important to me at least.  To roughly 89% of yous this is as important as the news that Bruce Jenner is now wearing a bra).  But on the other hand, after reading the original post below, I have no clue what the hell I’m talking about there.  I suppose I can just rewrite the entire thing, but that would not be keeping it real.  You are with me folks, with the good and the bad, and the terrible.  And the “He must be high on kasha or something”.

I’ll make this one quick and painless, without any Morrissey references.  Its painful enough for me to even spell Morisseey.  But I really do wish everyday was like this Sunday.  A nice day of eating with the misses where I introduced her to more of my favorites, and in return she made let me try on 17 pairs of jeans in Soho.  I’m so lucky to have her.

Adding the Yuzu Wadashi Ramen to the equation.  The Yuzu is cleaner, with a profound citrusy flavor in both the stock and noodles (Yuzu is an Asian Citrus fruit that looks like a cross between a grapefruit and a lemon).  Cleaner than the Green Curry that is, which still rocks with its complexity and chewy wavy noodles.  Its a fairly busy plate with okra, shrimp, and shaved dried chili, and almost mazemen-like with its thick broth.  Still enjoyed it, but I give a slight nod to the lighter Yuzu at this point.  We also loved the long flat sizzling hot Iron-Pan Stick Dumplings.  They are hot alright, and quite delicious with pork, chives, chinese cabbage, garlic, and scallion.  Get it!

I’m not complaining, but this is one of those places that puzzle me why there are no lines out the door like you see in Totto and Ippudo.

Bassanova Green Curry Bassanova Dumplings

May 21st, 2014 post:

The likely title if the great Morrissey would have written this one for me.  “Some Girls are Bigger than Others” by Morrissey and the Smiths always pops into my head when I go to one of those school events like I did today.  And you know what?  He’s right!  Some girls are indeed bigger than others, and not only that but “Some girls mothers are bigger than other girls mothers” (listen to the song).  You can say a lot about Morrissey, but you cant say he’s unobservant.  Today at my 12 year old Honor Society Ceremony I just couldn’t help but notice how tiny some kids are compared to others.  Some look like 16, while others look like 6.

BTW (switching to “Big mouth” as the soundtrack for this post) did you ever wonder why people put those “My child is in an honor student” bumper stickers on their cars.  Is this something you need to announce to total strangers driving behind you?  And do you honestly think that anyone would actually care and go “oh look honey, her son is an honor student, well isn’t that special”  Why not announce it to total strangers at other venues, like when entering a subway train “LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, can I have your attention please..”.  It never made sense to me. (Switching gears to “How Soon is Now”…)

Bassanova Ramen

Anyway, some Ramen are in fact better than others, and Bassanova’s Green Curry Ramen is moving up the NYC rankings.  Rankings that include heavyweights like the Akamaru Modern by Ippudo, Spicy Ramen by Totto, and Ivan Ramen’s array of Ramen and Mazemen.  The awards and various list mentions are proudly displayed on the sign in a very unique way.  But to my and the Hummus Whisperer’s shock, no mention of the “Battle of the Soups” discovery by the Hummus Whisperer back in November”.  While we didn’t expect the Bassanova founder to put the bumper sticker “I was mentioned on Eating With Ziggy” we sent him, we did expect something next to the NYT top 10.

The Green Curry Ramen is peppery, intense, and features wavy thicker al-dente noodles which I haven’t seen before in a Ramen bowl.  The added okra, shrimp and of course the porky goodness adds to the joy.  The pork stock with hints of fish was rich, complex and simply Marvelous.  Another unique Ramen to us but an increasingly common one in Tokyo is the Lemon Pepper featuring thinner more basic noodles.  The waitress grinds fresh pepper on top of the lemon slices coating the entire dish.  Check out Bassanova everyone

Bassanova Ramen
76 Mott St
$$
Recommended Dishes:  Get the Green Curry

Bassanova - Green Curry Ramen Bassanova Lemon Pepper Ramen Bassanova

Categories: Chinatown, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ippudo Westside – When Ziggy Met Shigy

I told you a while back that Hell’s Kitchen is quietly transforming into a little Ramen mecca.  Even with the opening of Ippudo Westside, the lines at the previous lone Ramen king Totto 2 blocks away are not getting smaller.

Last week I went with my friend Sammy to a special event at Ippudo where I had the opportunity to meet Ramen king Shigemi Kawahara, founder of the Ippudo empire.  An Empire that started in 1985 in Japan, and expended into 10 other cities around the world including 2 now in NYC.  Ok, perhaps “10” and “Empire” don’t quite go together but you know what I mean.  And stop questioning me, its very annoying.

photo (59)Anyway, the event featured the Ippudo founder serving a traditional Shojin meal that can only be had for that day only.  Shojin is a totally vegan cuisine.  A Ramen dish consisted of non-meat based soup, whole wheat noodles and a delicious vegetable tempura that you dump into the soup for added aroma and flavor from the oil and veggies.  I enjoyed this to the last drop.  We then finished the traditional meal with Matcha Tea and sweets.  Except I screwed up, and forgot to turn the Chawan (tea bowl) clockwise twice before drinking.  I think it means I will not have any more children, or puppies.  With the master watching you the tea has to be drank to the last drop to show respect.

Ippudo - master at work Ippudo - Shojin Ippudo - Matcha

That was upstairs, in a small and intimate sort of private looking room.  On a previous visit, downstairs I really enjoyed the Akamaru Modern Ramen with egg and more spicy miso paste on the side.  The rich and complex pork broth, along with hefty pieces of pork belly and veggies was a beautifully done pork medley.  Highly recommend this one.

Ippudo westside has a new, modern, sort of  Ramen World Epcot feel to it.  “I love Ramen” t-shirts all around along with a plethora of chants.  Whenever a new customer comes in, leaves, gets his Ramen, goes to the bathroom, etc, the staff chants something (eg “welcome”, “aim well”).  You need to come early or late or be prepared to wait now that the word is out with the locals.  They now text you when your table is ready.

Ippudo - Akamaru Ippudo Ippudo Westside

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.