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Manhattan Ramen Critique thread

Ramen Setagaya

SHIO RAMEN
Broth base: Seafood; extremely savory, chock-full of umami
Broth type: Shio
Broth oiliness: Light
Broth saltiness: Heavy; not very sippable.
Noodle thickness: Thin.
Noodle mouthfeel: Chewy.
Cha-shu: A bit smoky, a bit sweet, very tender, just a sliver of fat around. Probably the best cha-shu I've had in NYC so far, and the only one worth ordering extras.
Other toppings: Scallion slivers, bamboo, seaweed flakes, and 2 halves of a poached egg. The egg is lightly salty, not quite as flavorful as the ones from Rai Rai Ken. The bamboo is fairly bland and is fairly soft, not crunchy.
Accompaniments: I didn't order any sides, because I was saving room for takoyaki from the Otafuku stand the next block over, but they had quite an assortment of the usual suspects. I am very curious about their onigiri offerings; maybe next time.
Overall impression: Definitely very enjoyable; the thin noodles are right to my taste, though I would have preferred them cooked a little more. The broth flavor is fairly heavy and so not very sippable, but the proportion of noodles to broth was good and so you'll probably finish both at the same time. For $10 you get a reasonably-sized bowl, though not as big as what you get at Sapporo for $10. I like the seafood-y-ness of their broth and the thin noodles, so I'll probably be back when I'm in the mood for it, but overall, I'll probably choose Rai Rai Ken more often.
Misc: Another enjoyable super-casual down-home venue. The waitress was very friendly and attentive; was there to take our order the second we were ready, and was there to take away our bowls and give us the check the minute we were done.

Apr 03, 2012
IreneDAdler in Manhattan

Manhattan Ramen Critique thread

While there have been a good number of long threads on ramen in Manhattan, most of the posts consisted of very vague, subjective comments like "I like X restaurant more than Y." And since everybody has slightly different preferences for ramen, this often leads to directly contradictory recommendations! I'd like to kick off a thread that tries to break down each ramen place by characteristics so that people can pick out restaurants that suit their tastes more easily.

Format:
+ Broth base: Tonkotsu; Seafood; Chicken; etc.
+ Broth type: Miso, shio, shoyu, etc.
+ Broth oiliness: Light; Medium; Heavy
+ Broth saltiness: Light; Medium; Heavy
+ Noodle thickness: Thin; Medium; Thick
+ Noodle mouthfeel: Soft/doughy; Medium; Chewy/rubbery
+ Cha-shu: Any comments you'd like to make on the cha-shu
+ Other toppings: Ditto
+ Accompaniments: Cha-han, gyoza, kara-age, etc.
+ Overall impression: Any thoughts you have
+ Misc: Anything that doesn't fit into the above categories.

Obviously this is not going to be an exact science. What I consider to be light broth could be called medium by another person with a lighter palate, for example. But hopefully this rubric will help us to communicate better about what aspects of various ramen restaurants we like. Also, as each listed aspect tends to differ between different types of ramen at the same restaurant, I'd like to encourage everyone to write about the different types of ramen separately.

RAI RAI KEN:

CURRY RAMEN
+ Broth base: Not sure, I think it's chicken; pretty sure it's not tonkotsu as it doesn't have that thick, earthy underlying flavor.
+ Broth type: CURRY! :D
+ Broth oiliness: Medium (the curry paste makes the broth a little heavier)
+ Broth saltiness: Medium (again the curry paste makes this a more heavily-seasoned broth, but it's still very sippable for me)
+ Noodle thickness: Medium (typical ramen noodles, not as thick as Misoya or Sapporo)
+ Noodle mouthfeel: Medium on the soft side. Definitely softer than most ramen I've had, but still with a little bite.
+ Cha-shu: Very well-seasoned and tender, with a little bit of fat.
+ Other toppings: Scallions and half a salty poached egg. Absolutely love the egg, it's much more flavorful than the typical plain boiled egg you get at lots of places, but it fits in well with the flavor of the broth. Also it's very soft, which fits in well with the texture of the noodles.
+ Accompaniments: I keep forgetting to try their cha-han because I'm so excited about their ramen every time I go there, but I always see other people order it and I stare at their order jealously because it smells so good and looks incredible. My husband ordered the gyoza once and it was just ok. Kinda weak flavors overall and very loose, wimpy filling. They serve annin tofu as desert as well, and it's pretty good. Kinda hard to fuck up annin tofu though.
+ Overall impression: I <3 this ramen! Strong on the curry flavor but still light enough to sip by itself, which I personally prefer to the heavier styles of broth that you can only consume with noodles to balances out the saltiness and oiliness. I also like that the noodles are on the softer side, because I don't like noodles that are very chewy (makes me feel like I'm eating rubber).
+ Misc: The chefs will give you a glass of ice water as you sit down, and you can order tea for extra $. I haven't tried their tea yet, though I think they don't serve barley tea which is a shame.

SHIO RAMEN
+ Broth base: Same as above
+ Broth type: Shio
+ Broth oiliness: Light
+ Broth saltiness: Light
+ Noodle thickness: Thin. They serve a different, thinner kind of noodles with the Shio broth, not sure if you can request it with other broth types, as they don't list it as an option on the menu.
+ Noodle mouthfeel: Soft.
+ Cha-shu: Same as above
+ Other toppings: Egg and scallions as above, I think it also comes with bamboo shoots and corn.
+ Accompaniments: Same as above
+ Overall impression: One of the lightest bowls of ramen I've ever tried. I like it, though I have a hard time imagining ordering this over the curry ramen. My husband thought it was a bit too bland. I also love the thin noodles. Not quite as awesome as my favorite Rosemead Shinsengumi noodles, but the closest to it that I've found so far in NYC.

Apr 03, 2012
IreneDAdler in Manhattan

Where to buy Kaffir Limes

I went down to Gardena today for some mochi and decided to try my luck at the Gardena Ranch 99 and I found both the leaves and the galangal exactly as you described :D Thanks a bunch!

Mar 05, 2010
IreneDAdler in Los Angeles Area

Where to buy Kaffir Limes

I just went to 99 Ranch in Arcadia today (the one at Duarte and Golden West) and I could not find any kaffir lime leaves for the life of me. This was my first time trying to buy these so I wasn't sure where exactly to look for them. I looked through both the fresh produce section and the dried spices section carefully and couldn't find any at all :( I was only able to find the fresh lemongrass in a corner of the produce section and some dried galangal in the dried spices and pastes section. Am I blind? Where can I find these leaves? And if there's any store that carries fresh galangal, that would be awesome to know too :) Thanks!

Mar 04, 2010
IreneDAdler in Los Angeles Area

Going to Din Tai Fung tomorrow, what should I order?

I've gone there a few times now and have my usuals all figured out. Stir-fry rice cakes with shrimp and wonton soup every time, and alternate between the shao-mai and the Ja Jiang Mien (I think they call it noodles with ground pork in English). I was born in Beijing, so it's nice to have food that's more northern-style. My boyfriend, who is white, thinks the food is pretty bland, except for the crab XLB. I guess he just can't taste the Asian crack they put in their food.

Jan 26, 2010
IreneDAdler in Los Angeles Area