The owners of Chuko — considered by many to be Brooklyn’s best ramen restaurant — are quick to credit their mentor, Matsaharu Morimoto, for their expert noodle soups. But though ramen has remained a staple at every one of his eateries, scattered all across the country, the Iron Chef has never run a dedicated ramen-ya. Until now, that is.
Dubbed Momosan Ramen & Sake (for the nickname given him by his staff), Morimoto’s Murray Hill slurp spot puts noodles front and center — most especially, Tonkotsu — the traditional Kyushu style soup made entirely from pork bones. Although instead of adhering religiously to the accepted recipe, Momosan swaps in 30% chicken, and simmers the creamy potage for half the time (approximately 12-14 hours), for a smoother, more delicate, and more approachable result. The noodles have also been tweaked; instead of opting for thin, springy strands, Momosan has gone for thicker, aged, “temomi” (hand massaged) pasta with flat surfaces, which allows them to float rather than sink, as well as irregular edges, enabling them to absorb extra soup without becoming nobiru (soggy).
The Tantan option is also rather unique — using their tonkotsu broth as a base (fortified with a nutty swathe of Japanese sesame paste), the Momosan team honors the dish’s Chinese roots with chili flakes and red miso, before adding a bit of Malaysian flair, by way of coconut milk and curry paste. And that prized tonkotsu appears yet again in Tsukemen; as a hot, concentrated dip for chilled toppings and noodles (squeeze an accompanying lime over the broth halfway through slurping, for an entirely new flavor profile). In fact, the only non-tonkotsu ramen option is the Tokyo Chicken — which is soy based, considerably lighter and essentially uninterpreted, topped with braised bamboo shoots, toasted nori, planks of steamed poultry, and a halved, marinated egg.
Infinitely more casual than the other restaurants in Morimoto’s dynasty — ramen runs from $10-14, $100 bottles of sake can be enjoyed by the $8 glass, appetizers include pork gyoza and sticky ribs, and they don’t take reservations — it’s also the jumping off point for a brand new, low-cost concept (surprising coming from Morimoto!). So look out, Napa, Maui, Mexico City and Dubai — because Momosan Ramen & Sake could soon be headed to a storefront near you.
342 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016