It makes a pretty picture: an angry red bowl of ramen against a backdrop of wooden planking.
My noodle hang in the East Village lately has been Ramen Setagaya. Not the one on First Avenue that peddles such ramen arcana as a version featuring the noodles by themselves in a separate bowl from the broth and other ingredients. What’s more, the noodles (called tsuke-men) are barely cooked, almost like you were eating them right out of the package.
The broth is so hot, it threatens to shoot out of the bowl, geyser-like.
No, I prefer my noodles immersed in the soup at the St. Marks branch (there’s also one on University Place). My favorite on the simple and serviceable menu is spicy miso ramen, which, somewhat oddly, uses a dense miso as a launching pad for some of the spiciest noodles in town, the heat amplified by both chile oil and chile powder.
A similar catalog of add-ins to the other noodles soups on the menu graces the spicy miso ramen: half salt-flavored egg, two slices of fatty pork (superb!), sprouts, and–a reminder of the vast cultural distances traveled by foodstuffs, and the malleability of national cuisines–a mitt-ful of corn. The ancient Incans would be proud!
The bowl of soup is like a slap to the face, a tweak of the tongue, and then a punch in the gut. Let’s just say you’ll be feeling it tomorrow. 35 St. Marks Place, 212-387-7959
The facade beckons.
For the tender-tongued, there are syo-yu ramen.