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Monday, October 21, 2013

Yuji Ramen in New York City

I recently took a trip to New York City - one that was right around 24 hours long from touch down to take off.  Even in my short time frame, I was able to stuff myself silly.  When I got there, who else but Pichet Ong took me for an eating adventure of the Big Apple.

Yuji Ramen, owned by Yuji Haraguhi, was one place that he insisted on.  He didn't just suggest it.  He insisted.  So off we went to Whole Foods on Houston Street.  Yuji was supposed to be a rotating pop-up on the second floor of this Whole Foods.  But I guess they became so popular that at they stayed.

Here's another write up of Yuji Ramen by Serious Eats.

Something you might find curious about Yuji is that he didn't eat ramen growing up.  It wasn't a part of his comfort food or college food for that matter.  As a result, he says that his ramen is unique and different because he doesn't have an ideal ramen that he's trying to emulate or replicate.

Yuji's history starts with an education in business and then sales at a seafood supplier.  He has no official culinary training so he says, with a shy grin.  I have a plethora of respect for those in the culinary arts who learned it on the job or out of passion - and you can taste that passion.

While we were there, admiring fans would come by for a bowl and smile cheerfully at him.  He's pretty darn lucky as I saw many, many young women exploding with giddiness at the counter.  Oh, what is it like to be a Ramen God? 

The first dish I ordered was the salmon and cheese mazeman (ramen with little to no soup) - a pretty amazing dish.  The goal of his seafood offerings is to "showcase seafood through ramen."  And he hit the nail on the head with this one.  The cured salmon is sweet, savory, and has the flavor of the sea.  The texture was tender yet had structure that said "someone took great care of me!" 

I can't really find words to explain the flavor of this dish.  I can only describe it as a mashup of subtle gastronomy on a bed of noodles.  You just need to try it.  And then you'll understand my inability to describe it.  

The second dish I got was the daily special, a clear fish broth that was beautifully clear and flavorful.  This dish does have the comfort feel of soups that my mother made, and the careful execution that would can impress even the pickiest of ramen connoisseurs.  If I'm back in New York, I'd definitely visit Yuji Ramen again!

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