The search for a good authentic Japanese noodle house continues in NYC. The amount of Japanese ramen places and Chinese noodle restaurants is staggering, but I've found what I consider the best bowl of Chinese hand-pulled noodles already at Eastern Noodle. All that remains is to find a Japanese ramen place in NYC that can pair up to Boston's Men Tei.
Rai Rai Ken has it down in regards to aesthetics--the place is a tiny cramped hole-in-the-wall with bar seating only so you'll have to get close and friendly with your neighboring diners regardless of who they are. The prices are fair and portions are about average. I was in a mood to indulge so I ordered kimchi, yaki soba, gyoza and miso soup--it looks beautiful all together. Service is fast and friendly, the food didn't take long to serve--as a noodle place should be quick.
The food was all up to par. The yaki soba was exceptional: thick noodles with generous amounts of veggies and a brothy pork sauce that was great prize at the bottom of the bowl since it soaked into the bottom portion of the food. The kimchi was not as spicy as you usually find it and slightly less crisp than I like it. The dumplings were flavorful and crisp, but a little on the small side. Miso soup . . . is miso soup.
I also tried the curry tofu ramen and the miso ramen--which were pretty good. But the real problem here is that I was yearning for the simple Ramen of Men Tei from back in Boston--huge bowl with tons of broth and thin noodles, a few slices of pork, artificial crab meat, and bean sprouts. Basically, I'm a fool for not ordering the Shio ramen here ($8.50). My meal pictured above cost around $20 dollars which isn't terrible for a large meal like that, but to the normal person a bowl of ramen ranged from $8-$12.
214 E 10th St (between 1st and 2nd Ave.), New York, NY 10003, 212 477 7030, yelp page