Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen Brings Hand Pulled Noodles to Midtown West

When we first heard of Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen (8th Ave @ 49th St), we got super excited (as well as overwhelmed by a mouthful of a restaurant name). Based on this Grubstreet article, the proprietor and Chef not only seems to be quite the character, but also seems to know his way around a bowl of hand pulled noodles having spent time in the kitchens of Lanzhou Handmade Noodles in Flushing. And with the exception of Xian Famous Foods, Midtown is sorely missing a good noodle joint. Noodle envy is never a pretty thing.

The ‘ramen’ moniker may be somewhat misleading to anyone who’s expecting Japanese style noodle soups, soyu, shio, tonkatsu or otherwise. Instead, expect Chinese beef noodle soups in the same bent as Lan Zhou or Sheng Wang with dense and satisfying wheat noodles, a somewhat wan broth, and chewy but substantial slices of beef brisket that are heavily fragrant of Chinese five spice. Leaves of bok choy provide additional body and texture, and a sprinkle of scallions and cilantro introduce pleasant herbal notes. In my bowl of spicy beef noodle ramen ($8.75), there was an errant peanut or two in my bowl of noodle soup, so take note if you have a nut allergy. It was also spiced with only a whisper of heat, however sriracha sauce is at every table and chili oil is available on request.

The rest of the menu (Dimsum and noodle soup menu | teriyaki and dessert menu) spans the regular cast of Chinese dimsum staples. I’d happily give up my morning bagel routine for a crispy you tiao (fried cruller – $2) dredged in dou jiang ($2-$2.50), various preparations of soy milk served sweet, salted, hot or cold.

They do a somewhat adequate version of xiao long bao (soup dumpling – $7.25), as well as an adept version of shengjian mantaou (fried pork buns – $7.25). The latter are a close cousin of the soup dumpling, sporting a thick and luxurious (albeit greasy) skin with a meatier payload, swimming in the same velvety gelatinous broth. It’s meant to be dunked in the same vinegar / soy sauce cocktail and is the perfect meaty, greasy, carbo-laden foil for a wicked hangover.

If there is a unifying theme with the neighborhood that this restaurants attempts to emulate, it’s terrible service. Diners can expect to be simultaneously ignored and rushed by the service. Regardless of such treatment, it can be reassuring that with such food and service, midtownlunchers can get a taste of Chinatown in their own backyard.

The + (What somebody who likes this would say)

  • Finally! a legit Chinese restaurant in Hells Kitchen
  • Xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are my favorite thing, ever
  • Screw Wheaties, I’d rather have a Chinese cruller with soy milk for breakfast

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Everything is nearly double the price of Chinatown
  • The service stinks, and the kitchen can be slow at times

Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen ,811 8th Ave (at 49th St) ; (917) 388-2555

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