Lunch’er Michael Reports: Ronin’s Ramen
Last week Clay reported that Negi Ya, which was once Washoku Cafe, is now Ronin. Lunch’er Michael checked in today with this report…
I work on West 37th near 7th, which is pretty much what ML considers “out of bounds” (to which I take umbrage, given the delicious gems near me, but that’s another story) but the reality is that we do indeed lack several delicious fixtures. (Editor’s Note: 37th and 7th is totally in bounds! Our boundaries are usually 8th Ave. to the West and 32nd to the South.) Ramen being one of them – Totto and Hidechan are out of range for my closely monitored 1-hour lunch break.
As such, getting word of Ronin the other day (on 37th btw. Mad+5th) was like sunshine breaking through rain clouds. Don’t get me wrong, I’m surrounded by wonderful Chinese noodle soup opportunities, but it’s not ramen. I used to work downtown near Men Kui Tei, which is as good as it gets outside of Mitsuwa over in Edgewater, so I’ve been craving it ever since I started working in midtown.
I made my way to Ronin and ordered the tonkatsu ramen – it has it good points and its bad points.
I loved the noodles themselves. They were just on the chewy side of al dente, and to me that’s the way they should always be. I’ve only seen notes on asking your server for preferred firmness at Men Kui Tei and Ippudo, but I didn’t bother trying here.
They were on the whiter side of noodles, so they may not be using egg noodles for the ramen at all. To me this is fine and dandy, but many purists would probably say that ramen HAS to be curly. I’ve avoided talking about everything but the noodles for good reason… they’re not fully all there yet. The broth was flavorful, but it didn’t have the richness of tonkatsu ramen I’ve had elsewhere – usually the good broths are very cloudy and dense. This was dark and had a strong soy sauce flavor, almost like they just put some pork into shoyu ramen broth.
I am not a fan of runny eggs, especially not in my ramen. Personally, I was crestfallen when I saw the egg, expecting (to me) a disgusting runny yolky mess that I’d just take out as cautiously as possible – happily, it was mostly cooked through and actually delicious. The yolk was actually moderately fluffy. I’d eat more eggs if they were like that.
The bamboo shoots were out of a can, like most bamboo shoots in ramen, but these were sweet. SWEET. Like biting into it, there was a distinct sugary taste. Also, they put on shredded pickled ginger. Well… I wanted to like it, but whenever I had some of the ginger, it quickly overpowered the broth. The bean sprouts and scallions were thrown into the soup too soon. Those should go in just seconds before it goes out – both were partially cooked and had lost their crispness and flavor.
The pork was forgettable. It was way too lean, definitely not up to par with the ramen at Mitsuwa and VERY definitely not up to the standards of Menkui-tei. I’d go back again if I needed ramen, but only if I honestly ask myself “is this craving something that could be answered by Chinese noodle soup?” Especially when those are closer to my office and cheaper – the bill came to $11.50 before tip. I’m not sure if I’d go back unless someone told me the pork was fattier, broth was richer, and the ingredients of slightly better quality.
- Actual ramen in the 30s that isn’t from a generic deli
- Perfectly done noodles
- Broth could really be better
- Pork is leaner than it ought to be
- Expensive for basic ramen
- Pickled ginger?
I hope this helps… I’m going to give these guys a try again in a few months for my ramen fix, but in the meantime, I’d love it if someone opened a ramen joint in the 30s to compete with them.
Washoku Cafe, 9 E. 37th St (btw. Mad+5th), 212-686-2233