Yuji Ramen’s bacon and egg mazemen
Calling itself a Test Kitchen, Smorgasburg mainstay Yuji Ramen has assumed its temporary spot in the second floor food court of the Lower East Side Whole Foods. Their tenure will be two months, and the concise daytime menu (there’s also an evening omakase) includes three varieties of mazemen – a type of unsouped ramen dressed with sauce and a variety of ingredients — and one daily shoyu ramen with a broth that varies.
The view from one of the padded stools
Yesterday was the opening day, and FiTR hurried over there from our offices in Cooper Square. Yuji’s temporary premises offer spectacular views of Houston Street, with the best seats being counter stools that look into the kitchen, allowing a pleasant banter with the staff, who were working hard but seemed totally in their element.
Having skipped lunch, we went for the bacon and egg mazomen. The modest size carboard bowl featured a heap of noodles that were shaped like fettuccine, but eclipsed so that you couldn’t see them by toppings that included a jiggy egg, swatches of kale, and coarsely crumbled bacon that had retained a nice amount of fat, as toasted bonito flakes waved in the faint breezes of the Whole Foods mezzanine. What struck us as we wolfed down the bowl was, What prevents this from being called Italian food? Well, really not much.
The broth of the shoyu ramen varies by day in composition. On opening day it was made with an rather odd combo of beef, chicken, red snapper, and mussels. The soup contained three very tender mussels in their shells, and in this case the noodles were a more conventional type of ramen of smallish circumference, cooked firm.
Priced at $9, both bowls were smallish, but also worth eating, with the mazomen preferred by a substantial amount. Let’s call it Japanese carbonara.
Yuji’s daily shoyu ramen
Slurping noodles at the comfy counter
Yes, the mazemen noodles do look and taste exactly like fettuccine.
For further details of Yuji Ramen’s Whole Foods operation, and a thumbnail bio of ramen master Yuji Haraguchi see Tejal Rao’s report
Take a peek at NYC’s 10 Best Bowls of Ramen
And watch this Friday for Tejal Rao’s update: 5 Best New Bowls of Ramen
And next Wednesday, for Robert Sietsema’s review of Sukume and Ganso.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 13, 2013