NYC’s Hottest Ramen: Geki Kara at Tabata


Geki Kara Ramen is $9 worth of molten chilies — plus noodles.

Japanese cuisine has been playing footsie with chilies over the last five years or so, and it’s the rare Japanese menu that doesn’t boast a fiery dish or two. And today nearly all ramen parlors in the city (which must number nearly 50) have at least one hot option. The geki kara ramen at newcomer Tabata is the hottest I’ve tried so far.

The previous hottest was the spicy miso ramen at Ramen Setagaya on St. Marks Place in the East Village. It has a thick miso broth, so thick it almost qualifies as gravy, which is laced with chili oil. It’s so hot that you’ll find it difficult to enjoy the broth after the noodles, pork, and boiled egg have been consumed.

Geki Kara, which supposedly means “hellishly spicy” in Japanese, has a good quarter-inch of chili oil floating on top of the bowl, and every slurped noodle comes well-slicked with it. Shaved scallions provide another agreeable flavor, and the broth itself (under the chile oil) is salt-flavored chicken stock, rather than miso, so it’s much lighter than the corresponding soup at Ramen Setagaya.

Tabata Ramen is located behind the Port Authority on Hell’s Kitchen’s Ninth Avenue, with a menu that offers 18 different kinds of ramen, including two vegetarian options, and two that separate noodles from dipping broth (the tsukemen style). There are over-rice dishes and appetizers, too.

Another advantage is that the bowls of ramen are a dollar or two less than the same soups at most other ramen parlors.

540 Ninth Avenue

The ramen in Geki Kara are of medium weight, and agreeably chewy. It can be made with roast pork or chicken.