The snow started to come down early that Friday. I had plans to meet up with some friends, and decided it was the perfect opening for me to try Ramen Lab in the NOLITA section of Manhattan. Later we’d all be under the influence, so what better dish than Ramen to fortify the stomach. An acquaintance of mine, when I lived in Korea, always used to bemoan the lack of Ramen joints there. Having lived in Japan for many years, he would always say that at the end of a long night of drinking, it was Ramen that would sort you out. That made sense, In New York and much of the North East its pizza, but tonight it would be Ramen, albeit in reverse.
Ramen Lab is a peculiar place, not so much restaurant as it is an advertisement for the owners. Sun Noodle Corp. of New Jersery owns this spot, and it wasn’t until after I heard about the restaurants concept, that I learned noodle peddlers were the proprietors. You’ll have to get over it ( like companies adorning your favorite soccer teams jersey) I did, was easy.
The 12 seat space, stools huddled around the kitchen, invites a new chef to prepare a new ramen each month. A truly great concept in my opinion. While NYC has its fair share of Ramen joints, why not have more, 12 more a year to be precise. Expect long waits when you come hear, as space and time are factors. I got there right when it opened more or less, and still had to wait about 35 minutes. Put your name in and order prior to being seated. Typically on the menu is one vegetarian option, and one carnivorous choice. I went with that nights American Wagyu Miso ramen. The dish that night was brought to the table by Akira Hiratsuka and his team at Brooklyn Ramen.
The broth was decadent, a visible pot piled with clean white bones proof that it took some time to cultivate the rich flavor. Also present was the clear taste of ginger. The beef was tender as were the noodles, and they really anchored the dish. Scallion and corn brought color to the bowl, and the soft boiled egg a classic ramen touch. The menu offers a lot of a la carte options, each costing a dollar or two. This is typical in many of the ramen restaurants in New York these days, and not something I’m particularly fond of. It’s my opinion that an egg should come standard with your soup. They also charged extra if you wanted your broth spicy, so hot oil was additional, which I feel should definitely be a free option. Beyond this digression, flavor is front and center, and paired with an Orion Ramen Lab is a great start, or end, to any frigid New York Night.