If ever I did have to choose a favorite soup noodle (other than anything Malaysian of course), it would be the ramen. Deeply flavorful pork broth with buttery pork slices and perfectly al dente noodles. It’s not an easy combination to perfect, and few do it well.
So I’d like to highlight the folks in NYC who have attempted and did well (ok, some did only decently).
We’ll start with Terakawa Ramen. Nested in the middle of Gramercy, on Lexington Ave between 23rd and 22nd st, is this nondescript Japanese restaurant that seemingly looks innocuous and borderline boring, like just another Japanese restaurant you would find in any other city. Not every ramen they make is good, but a week ago I tasted one that was actually worth mentioning: the Mayu Ramen.
Accented with black garlic oil, I think it is by far the best ramen I’ve had here at Terakawa. It’s fragrant and is just perfect for the cold, rainy night (Ok, I know it’s the summer and cold nights are hard to come by, especially after the hot spell we’ve had, but even then, I would still eat a bowl of this). It never really gets very crowded here, so it’s almost always possible to get a seat. And it’s good for groups as well.
So, there you go. First ramen of the series.
18 Lexington Ave,
New York, NY 10010
My dish for the year has got to be chicken. “WHAT?!” You gasp. “Chicken??? That’s it?!” Yes, that’s it. The best chefs can do wonders with this white meat bird. For example, Daniel Humm. After acquiring Eleven Madison Park from Danny Meyer, Humm and business partner Will Guidara have been working on the most anticipated chicken dish, er, I mean, restaurant, The NoMad.
Anyway, the dish, aptly named, Chicken, costs a whopping $78. “WHAT?!” You gasp again. That’s right. $78. But stuffed with foie gras, black truffles and brioche, it was worth every damn penny.
The chicken is shown to you before it is taken apart into breast slices and a little bowl of all the dark meat. The meat was moistly flavored with the truffles and foie gras. Divine.
Possibly the best dessert I’ve tasted in a while is NoMad’s pastry chef Mark Welker’s rendition of Milk & Honey. Flaky milk brittle and shortbread topped with caramel laced ice cream. I could bury my face into that plate again and again.
All in all, an extremely epic dining experience. Get your reservations and GO!
The NoMad @ The NoMad Hotel
1170 Broadway (at 28th St)
New York, NY 10001
P/S: Another chicken dish to try is the one at Marc Forgione, downtown.
Michael White is definitely a pasta extraordinaire. Of course there are definitely other pasta geniuses out there, like the ones at Da Romano in Venice. But White is a formidable force in his own right, what with the likes of Convivio (now closed), Osteria Morini, Ai Fiori and Marea in New York.
Marea is the seafood themed pasta restaurant in nondescript ground floor outfit of an apartment building in Columbus Circle. My favorite dishes: The bone marrow and octopus fusilli (which I don’t have a picture of). The squid ink and shrimp gramigna. But of course, if you’re a fan of uni, The crab and uni spaghetti.
Michael White never disappoints with his pasta.
240 Central Park S,
New York 10019
Third japanese noodle category of the day: Udon.
Manhattan is definitely spilling over into Williamsburg. But who am I to complain if they would open a place like this. Ever heard of cold dipping udon? I haven’t. But it’s delightful. (Apologies for the grainy picture. Dark, tavern-like places don’t allow for successful picture taking with a lowly iPhone)
What would you think of curry udon? Pedestrian? Think again.
Other things to order here:
– Uni tacos
– Perfectly battered vegetable tempura
205 Grand St
(between Bedford Ave & Driggs Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
To continue on this Japanese food streak (god I love Japanese food), comes the next category of Japanese noodles: Soba.
A relative new comer to the competitive food market of NYC (though at the time of writing they’ve been around for more than a year), is Cocoron Soba. Their mission is to serve heartwarming soba to the people of New York. And personally, whatever warms my belly definitely warms my heart. If you think of soggy buckwheat noodles in warm soy-sauce-like broths when you think of soba, you have to give Cocoron a chance to change that image.
Try the Stamina Dip Soba. Piping hot soba sauce cooked with chicken, scallions and celery on top of a little burner, with a hearty portion of perfectly al dente soba. And you can add soba broth to your sauce to make it drinkable later. I suggest ordering a large so you have more soba to eat with the broth.
If you prefer warm soba, try the Pork Kimchee Soba. With a poached egg on the side.
Thanks to Sarah who finally convinced me to go.
61 Delancey St
(between Eldridge St and Allen St)
New York, NY 10002
NYC and its neighboring areas must be the haven for authentic Japanese food in the U.S. At least I think so anyway.
Santouka is located in a Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa. Yes, that’s right, in a Japanese supermarket. In Edgewater, NJ. There is a bus that takes you specifically to Mitsuwa directly from Manhattan’s Port Authority. Yes, that’s right, a special bus to a supermarket. Mock as you may, but hoards of people board the earliest bus on Saturday mornings just so they can eat at places like Santouka and shop at Mitsuwa.
Santouka opens at 11am, but the line begins to form at 10.30am. If you’re driving from the city, it’s been proven that if you arrive by 10.20-10.30am you will still be part of the first wave of ramen servings.
Let me show you why people do crazy things like this.
The star of the meal is the pork. It’s so buttery and melt-in-your-mouth that they have to serve it cold instead of in the ramen, lest it completely disintegrates before you can get to it. The noodles and broth come in 3 sizes, small, medium, large. I’d say stay away from the large, else the richness of the broth and expansion of noodles in your tummy will impede your breathing ability and prevent you from eating other things that Mitsuwa has to offer. Like the black sesame soft serve.
Mitsuwa Market Place
595 River Rd
Edgewater, NJ 07020
Mon-Sat: 11am – 8.30pm
Sun: 11am – 8pm
I come from a country where street food is a major blood vein and is what feeds its people. I’ve always thought that Malaysian street food is what creates a tummy made out of steel… until of course I came to Delhi.
Now, don’t be put off by this Wikipedia link just yet. If you want to sample Mughlai cooking, you should check out Karim’s. Their specialty for breakfast is only 2 kinds of mutton, one of which is the mutton nihari which is served with their khameeri rotis.
Barely awake at 9am (which is when they start serving breakfast), I was a little grumpy from having to wake up so early on a Saturday morning, brave a (rip off) rickshaw ride through some really dodgy little streets and sit at a greasy table. In hindsight, I don’t regret having to do any of those at all. The gravy from the nihari + the fluffy bread was worth it.
(off the Chandi Chowk train station)
Jama Masjid, New Delhi, India
Phone: (011) 2326 9880