Category Archives: Ramen

Ramen Science v2

I live for this. #eastriver #sunset #reflection #brooklyn

When Yuji Ramen released more tickets for June dates, I snatched a couple of reservations up, unintentionally booking them for our anniversary. Yuji and his team had been in Japan for the month of May, eating and getting inspired for their restaurant set to open this year (I hope!).

Some of the courses we had were similar but there were a few changes that I really loved.

House smoked salmon with camembert cheese mazemen
The first two courses were the same as before. However I think we got a little more Camembert in our salmon course. I prefer it with less but it was still delicious.

Squid ink pasta with squid ragu
The squid course is still one of my favorites. I love that the pasta is orechiette, shaped like little scoops to hold sauce in.

English pea palate cleanser
As a palate cleanser, we had a refreshing English pea ramen. The broth was made from kombu and pea shells, with some yuzu oil and a sweet pea flower on top.

Ankimo agnolotti
The next course was ankimo agnolotti, made with soba (buckwheat flour) instead, which is why it is brown and dotty. Topped with fresh wasabi, nasturtium, and ponzu, this was the crowd favorite. The pureed ankimo was sweet and creamy, which was a really nice contrast to the toothsome and slightly gritty texture of the soba. We only got two pieces each but this I could’ve definitely eaten ALL DAY.

Cherrystone clams
The clam course was very similar to the mussel course of the last tasting we did, except a little less vinegar-y and the cucumber was pureed instead of diced. He used cherrystone clams from Connecticut, which are denser and larger than the Manila clams I’ve been eating lately. Again this came with hot noodles to mix into, turning the solid broth to liquid.

Yuji torching the mussel shells

Yuji and Tara preparing our last course

Mussel Ramen
The last dish was the much-Instagrammed mussel course, where he pours the broth into a French press filled with torched mussel shells and bonito. I loved the broth much more this time, as it was made with mainly pork and chicken bones, culled from the Whole Foods meat department. Chicken just adds a little more depth to broth and it’s why the Chicken Paitan Ramen at Totto is my favorite in the city.

If you haven’t done this already, I strongly encourage you to at least try a weekday dinner. The weekend tastings have two more courses and are $65. They are releasing more tickets early next month for their August seatings, and then they will be done with their run at Whole Foods. Stay tuned to Facebook or Kitchit for more information!

And if you can’t wait or don’t want to spend the $40 or can’t get a reservation, they offer dine in and take out options at the Whole Foods Bowery location. Or you can find them at Smorgasburg on the weekends.

After dinner we headed into Williamsburg aka Hell on Earth (no seriously, have you seen Bedford Ave on a Saturday night? It’s like Mardi Gras) to watch Before Midnight. I spied our old Popdust intern Grace at the Sketchbook Project truck, ate cereal milk soft serve, and saw a beautiful sunset at a hidden park by the East River. Great way to end the day.

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Droppin ramen science

Yuji Haraguchi is doing awesome things with noodles. I first had his Uni Miso Ramen at Chuko and Yuji Ramen’s first collaboration together almost a whole year ago in Aprl. Since then, I have also been to his pop up at Kinfolk and have slowly been tracking his progress. When I heard he was doing a test kitchen/tasting menu, I was dubious.

David Chang’s horrific Momofuku Noodles are what really brought ramen into the mainstream’s eye, but I have been enjoying it in NYC since the days of Chikubu’s Friday shoyu special. Minca’s itis-inducing pork bath. David Chang’s noodles are served in warm dishwater and have no depth. So to me any newcomer is met with a great deal of skepticism.

I thought Yuji’s ramen was good, and I was curious about his new project. Starting at Smorgasburg, he moved into Kinfolk for a few months, and is now working towards his own shop in Williamsburg. The Test Kitchen at Whole Foods Bowery is crowdfunded through Kickstarter, and when they opened up new timeslots a couple of weeks ago, I jumped on it and booked a weeknight dinner. I should have booked them all.

Omakase menu

The Salmon Course
House smoked salmon, creamed Camembert cheese, fried salmon skin, shiso, nori. Basically, lox and cream cheese in ramen form. Super delicious – this is available for dine in/take out as well, but without the salmon skin.

The Squid Course
Squid ink orechiette, squid bolognese, tempura crumbs (?) and nori. The pasta is made in house with ramen dough, and its shape is chosen for its “bounciness.” I asked Yuji if he made all his noodles. He is working with Sun Noodles in NJ to develop custom noodles for himself, but for the Test Kitchen I believe they are all made by him.

The Uni Course
Uni and white miso ravioli topped with purple shiso, more uni, tangelo. The ravioli is made in house and the uni is from Maine, which is brinier than its sweeter California counterpart. In the past I have preferred CA uni but in a dish like this, a less creamy version works.

The Oyster Course
Cold ramen and ponzu geleés with poached oyster, cucumber, and celery hearts. And BACON.

The Oyster Course
Served with warm noodles, the geleés melt into a ramen broth when mixed together. The result is a briny, vinegar-based refresher. Yuji said this is vinegar-based style of ramen is common where he grew up, and is usually eaten after BBQ.

The Mussel Course
For the last course, Yuji torched some mussel shells and placed them in individual French presses with bonito and ramen broth.

The Mussel Course
After about a minute we were instructed to press down, crushing the shells, and then to pour the broth into a bowl of noodles and mussels. The result was a smoky, buttery broth enhanced with beef and chicken fat (see that white glob at the bottom left – MEAT FAT!!), as well as oil leftover from deep frying scallops.

Hands down the most surprising meal I’ve had thus far – very little waste is produced, and he is constantly tweaking, improving, and testing. Throughout the meal he asked how we liked everything and made sure to explain each dish and his inspiration for them. I complimented him on his choice of dishware, and he mentioned that he spent about two months choosing each dish, thinking about what would go in it and where in the menu it would be presented. Everything was thoughtful and carefully executed. I highly recommend giving his new restaurant a visit when it opens (hopefully in June) by the Lorimer/Metropolitan stop in Williamsburg. He is still playing around with the concept, but there will be Japanese street food, a tasting menu, and of course noodles.

I’ve always said I prefer west coast seafood to east coast. In particular, the oysters, because they are sweet and creamy. But Yuji’s love for the variety and brininess of east coast seafood shows me that west is not always the best. Most of the time, but not all the time!

I’d also like to point out what an amazing thing the Brooklyn Flea is – Yuji, Liddabit, Rick’s Picks, McClure’s Pickles, People’s Pops, Whimsy & Spice… It has been a great way for small businesses to flourish and get their names out there.

Coming up soon, field trip to Mitsuwa + Santouka face stuffing.

It’s hot

Every year New York gets butt nasty. But every year we still complain about how hot it is and how we wish it was winter. I don’t mind the heat, it’s the humidity that’s gross – stepping out of the shower and still feeling sticky – that is the worst. I’m up to 3-a-days – you’d think living in a tropical country for 6+ years would have prepared me better, but I can’t do it. I’m melting.

Despite the heat, we still want to eat ramen. So we do.

Summer Crab Mazemen at Yuji
Our first time eating at Yuji Ramen – we went with Mimi & Anthony on Friday. We had the Uni Mazement at the first Brooklyn Ramen Event where they partnered with Chuko. This is crab, arugula, a squeeze of lime… Really delicious but the portion was so tiny. It’s about half the amount of noodles you’d get in a normal bowl of ramen. We also had the fried shishitos and fluke sashimi. I’ve taken to using my Seafood Watch app when dining out, and this fluke was from DC, which the app said was a “good alternative.” I’ll take it.

Mentaiko-bacon Mazemen at Chuko
On Sunday we were headed to MoMA for a party so I wanted something quick and easy. I called ahead and Chuko said they had mazemen and cold ramen specials so that’s where we ended up. Ryan and I both got the mazemen, which was tossed in butter with mentaiko, bacon, shiso, and a bit of kombu broth. I liked this much better than Yuji’s – it was tastier and more filling. It was also a bigger portion of noodles.

There’s another BK Ramen event coming up on Monday the 9th, it’s six courses for $70 and Chuko is partnering up with Shigetoshi Nakamura of the Ramen Lab for this event. Sadly, I won’t be able to go but you should check it out and let me know how it is!

BK Ramen Event at Chuko

Our neighborhood favorite Chuko has gotten steadily better in their ramen preparations. Wmsburg newcomer Yuji Ramen teamed up with them last night to do a ramen event. $40 for four courses. Ryan and I met Tohm and Mimi there and we chowed the f down.

I didn’t take photos of the first two courses, which were Spanish mackerel with fish sauce, fried scallions, vinegar, and other toppings as well as a softshell crab bun with ramp mayonnaise. With all the shutterbugging going on I expected to find more online but I guess these were just posted to Facebook or Instagram. I’m too lazy to search. The first course was really good – I enjoyed all the flavors, however they overpowered the fish. The softshell crab bun kicked ass in my mouth. So much so that I burnt my tongue and it is still hurting 2 days later. I hope it goes on the menu for the (too-short) season.

Below are the two ramen courses:

Miso uni ramen by Yuji
Uni miso mazemen by Yuji Ramen. This has shiso and seaweed. I was hoping for way more uni than this but with the way the dinner was structured I’m not that surprised – that’s a lot of portions of the same dish to put out at the same time. Still pretty damn good – I love the shiso/uni combo. I want giant shiso leaves to wrap uni in. Nishiki rice on the side. Very little soy sauce. Furikake or shredded nori on top of the rice. I’m drooling. Someone make this happen for meeeee!!

Tsukemen by Chuko
Tsukemen by Chuko. By this point I was ready to bust my gut. I was only able to finish about a third of the noodles. The rayu broth was super rich, a little bit spicy, and mine had a piece of roasted garlic floating in it which I sadly but wisely avoided eating. At this point I was ready to fall off my chair because I was so full. I think smaller portions of noodles would have been better but I think they were accounting for the typical “more is better” mentality…or maybe they just didn’t know how the courses should be portioned since this was the first time.

My only gripe is that the table next to us had a couple of ridiculous girls that sounded like warblers on helium. Which is not that terrible I guess if you’re all enjoying yummy food. Looking forward to more of these dinners. Good job, ramen makers.

Stomach Monster loves ramen

Spicy Miso & Basic Ramen at Minca
Spicy Miso Ramen, Basic Ramen at Minca

Karaka Kogashi Miso Ramen at Ippudo
Karaka Kogashi Miso Ramen at Ippudo

Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen at Totto Ramen
Chicken Paitan Ramen at Ramen Totto