New York Diary #1 – Asian Food
New York is an easy city to fall in love with. I’ve been knocking about the US for a few weeks now and it really is like two different countries. USA and New York City. The smallest things reaffirm my love, for e.g. I detest the unreasonable number of ice cubes served with EVERY glass of water, seemingly everywhere else. Even at 0º and lower! After a couple of weeks in the Mid-west, eating out in New York City was a joy just from the simple pleasure of ice-free water at the table.
Every meal in New York has always been fantastic. It could be the romance of the city making it so, but I really think it’s just the incredible food. And Asian food in New York is something else. Korean, Japanese, Thai, Fusion…it’s ALL good.
Here are two incredible Asian restaurants in the East Village and one of them might just have been the best meal of my trip so far:
A little Ramen restaurant that looks traditional and more importantly, serves ramen that we’re told is as authentic and delicious as a ramen-ya in Japan. You can choose from four types of broth and various types of noodles. Having tried both the Minca Ramen, a mix of chicken and pork broth, as well as the Spicy Miso Ramen, I experienced incredible, rich, broth and deliciously textured noodles.
A small place, the best seat in the house is at the bar so you can watch all the ramen action as the bowls get put together at lightning speeds.
Minca, 536 E 5th St (between Avenue A & Avenue B) in the East Village, NYC
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Not a traditional Ramen restaurant, the bowl of noodles I had here, was by far the best meal I’ve had in a long time. It getsreally crowded here but we got lucky to get our seats just before the lunch crowd started lining up. We started with a portion of steamed buns. These soft, steamed buns filled with crispy, caramelized shiitake mushrooms, pickled cucumber, scallions and a delicious sweet hoisin like sauce were a textural delight. Soft, crunchy, crisp, smooth.
And our bowl of Shiitake Mushroom and Pickled Cucumber Ramen was in a word – Wow! Not a traditional ramen with soup, this bowl of heaven came with beautifully cooked noodles, soft shiitake mushrooms that must’ve been poached in some delicious broth, a neat little pile of pickled cucumber, fresh cabbage, fresh scallions, and an intensely flavorful combination of ginger scallion and probably sesame oil to bind everything together. This bowl of ramen was fantastic as it was richly flavored, richly textured, and full of fresh and light ingredients to balance out the rich flavors. Pickled cucumber might be my favorite new ingredient and this bowl, my favorite meal.
Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171 1st Ave in the East Village, NYC