Tabata launched as a non-descript ramen joint on one of the least picturesque corners of Hell’s Kitchen, under the overpass on West 39th Street and Ninth Avenue, but it quickly garnered our favor for its unique bowls of noodle soup. Last year, a second Tabata opened just a couple of blocks away, this one specializing in grab-and-go fare and aimed at midtown office workers and Penn Station commuters.
Now, the duo becomes a trio with a third outlet at 245 West 51st Street, which will host its grand opening this Friday.
Owner Maung Linn spent a dozen years learning ramen under a famous Japanese chef in a place called Tabata, explains general manager Norbu Tsering, and then he came to the States to open his first restaurant. “Most of the ramens that he does at the restaurant have really authentic Japanese flavor to them,” says Tsering. “At most other ramen places, the stock broth is pork — he is one of the few that does chicken.” But the reason you’ll find a number of odd flavor combinations on the list, too, is because Linn is originally from Burma — and he’s added Burmese flavors to a number of his soups. Linn cites the curries and garlic noodles as examples.
You’ll be able to find many of those ramens at this third outpost, but Linn also wanted to create a more refined experience than his other two restaurants, so he installed a sushi bar — and a full bar — as well. “It’s more of a relaxed ambiance,” says Tsering. And Linn moved uptown to facilitate that; he believes this part of Hell’s Kitchen better suits the environment of the restaurant.
And Linn has plans to open more Tabatas in the city, as well. “He’s looking in Brooklyn right now,” says Tsering. “But that will be more like Tabata 1, just serving ramen.”
Stop by Tabata 3’s grand opening celebration on Friday; the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner daily.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 23, 2014