The big New York City Ramen Challenge: A culinary journey of discovery through the diversity of flavors
New York City, the city that never sleeps, is not only home to skyscrapers and Broadway shows, but also an impressive variety of delicious dishes. On our trip we embarked on an exciting ramen challenge that took us through different parts of the city and taste worlds. Three ramen restaurants were on our list: Tabata Ramen, Ajisen Ramen, and Mr. Taka Ramen. Finally, you will find the recipe of our NYC Ramen Challenge winner to cook and experience the typical taste of New York.
Our first visit was a small, relatively unknown ramen bar in the Garmen District, Tabata Ramen. It is located on 9th Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets. Here I ordered the Signature Tabata Ramen for €21.90. A chicken ramen with soybean powder and rich coconut milk. It was served with mildly seasoned chicken, coriander and red onions. The combination of the broth with the coconut milk worked well, but unfortunately there were a few toppings in this version. I have to mention that I canceled the coriander, which is actually included as a topping. We also ordered the tonkotsu broth with noodles to taste without toppings because we also want to taste it plain and the toppings affect the taste. The broth had a round and intense taste and harmonized very well with the noodles. Jessica ordered the Samurai Ramen for €24.50, a tonkotsu broth with fried black garlic paste and braised pork shoulder, nori leaves, black mushrooms, bean sprouts and spring onions. The ramen broth was full-bodied and creamy, and the black garlic paste created a very special taste.
In the middle of New York's legendary Chinatown there was very original and traditional ramen, without any western influence. Ajisen Ramen can be found at 14 Mott St, New York, in the middle of China Town. My choice fell on the Tenderous Rib Ramen with Tonkotsu broth for €23.50. The broth was surprisingly quite thin and not as intense and fatty as expected. The ratio of broth to noodles was also influenced by noodles. The toppings were sufficient, especially the braised pork ribs. This was traditionally rich in fat and very rich in gelatin, so it was a new experience for us.
In the trendy Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, we visited the Timeout Market in an old and beautiful building right on the East River. Mr. Taka Ramen is located there alongside many other food stalls. Here tourists and locals come together and enjoy their meals and time together. We would definitely recommend a visit there, the atmosphere is great. We ordered “Spicy Black Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen” for €35.00, the most expensive ramen we have eaten so far. Tonkotsu ramen with black garlic oil, slices of braised pork belly, pickled ginger, spicy red miso paste, crispy garlic chips, ajutsuke tomago (pickled eggs), bean sprouts, kikurage mushrooms, spring onions and chili threads. The broth itself didn't have as much flavor as we know from a tonkotsu, and the noodles were also a bit too thin for our taste. The toppings, however, were the highlight here, both for the eyes and for the taste. A great, varied compilation that convinced us. The chachu was very tender and less gelatinous than the ramen in China Town, so it was more in line with our personal taste. Here, too, we also ordered pure tonkotsu broth with noodles for €15.50, again to taste without toppings. The broth was reserved and relatively dark, unfortunately the thin noodles couldn't absorb the broth perfectly.
Every visit to the Raman locations was fun, every visit to a ramen bar creates new inspiration. Sharing the enthusiasm for ramen with different people is something special; ramen brings different generations and cultures together. There is no clear winner of our NYC Ramen Challenge, as we liked the broth and noodles in the Tabata Ramen the best, but the toppings from the Mr. TAKA Ramen. There is a lot of tonkotsu broth on the menu, significantly more than in Europe. Ramen in New York is quite expensive, as are almost all restaurants in NYC.
Prices shown on menus do not include taxes or tips. In the United States, tipping is a common practice because it represents an important part of the income for service personnel. A reasonable tip is usually 15 to 25 percent of the total bill. When paying by card, a tip is often asked before confirmation. The prices stated here already include taxes and a tip of 20%, which is marked as a “tip”.
NYC Tonkotsu Ramen
- 2 noodle nests TADA Ramen
- 350 ml TADA Ramen Tonkotsu pork broth or Kinoko mushroom broth (vegan alternative)
- 1 tsp hot garlic paste
- 1 tsp Beni Shoga (pickled ginger)
- 1 ajutsuke tamago (pickled egg)
- Chili threads to taste
- 1 spring onion, cut into thin rings
- Crispy garlic chips
- Braised pork belly (chachu) or fried tempeh (vegetarian version)
- ½ tsp TADA Spice Up seasoning paste
- ½ tsp red miso paste
Please note that Chachu and Ajutsuke Tamago need to be prepared!
- Cook 2 nests of TADA Ramen noodles in boiling water for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In a separate pot, heat 350 ml of TADA Ramen Tonkotsu pork broth or vegan Kinoko mushroom broth. Make sure that the broth does not boil, just warms up. Then stir in the garlic paste.
- Prepare the toppings:
- 1 tsp Beni Shoga
- 1 Ajutsuke Tamago ( recipe )
- Chili threads to taste
- Thin rings of spring onion
- Crispy garlic chips
- Chachu, braised pork belly (to the recipe) or fried tempeh ( to the recipe )
- Mix ½ tsp TADA Spice Up seasoning paste and ½ tsp red miso paste
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water and place the pasta in a bowl.
- Pour the warm TADA Ramen Tonkotsu pork broth or Kinoko mushroom broth over the noodles.
- Garnish the soup with the prepared toppings.
- Enjoy your homemade NYC Tonkotsu Ramen.
Itadakimasu – Bon appetit!