Momi Ramen, one of the most popular dining spots in downtown Miami, is credited with spurring the Japanese noodle trend in the southern reaches of the U.S. Now, with a move north with its second outpost, Momi Hamptons (221 Pantigo Road, East Hampton; 631-324-1678), it’s attempting to kick off the craze in the East End with its homemade ramen and Japanese-style izakaya fare.
Just like the original South Florida location, the East Hampton spot is bringing ramen to new territory. The restaurant is offering noodles made in-house daily, from scratch, along with its dense tonkotsu stock, made from a rich blend of pork and bone marrow. It’s available with juicy pork belly ($17) or oxtail ($20). Both versions come topped with bamboo shoots, shimeji mushrooms, soft-boiled egg, sesame, and scallions.
Where the two places differ, though, is the breadth and scope of their menus. In Miami, Momi serves only ramen. Here, the concept has expanded to offer a wide selection of seasonally appropriate small plates, like daikon salad ($10): sliced Japanese radish served with a spicy mentaiko roe mayo and crispy nori flakes. The flavors and textures are pleasing, creamy, briny, and refreshing at the same time, but it’s not as spicy as the menu claims.
Gyoza ($10), another item from the original spot, is filled with pork and vegetables, then pan-fried to give it a browned crust on one side. A homemade soy-based dipping sauce comes on the side. Kani salad ($15) is another summery options with chilled crab meat, wakame seaweed, and tobiko roe tossed in truffle oil. Rock Shrimp Wraps ($14) have proven to be popular at the moment — a combination of spicy baby-shrimp tempura with sauteed water chestnut, meant to be enveloped in the iceberg lettuce that comes on the side. “Many Japanese izakaya restaurants in Japan do share plates,” says partner Anita Chen. “We married two separate styles of food together.”
The South Florida spot only serves noodles hot in broth, while the Hamptons edition prepares a couple of cold noodle options; crab and ikura ramen ($20) comes with snow crab, salmon roe, nori flakes, and scallions with a tsuyu sauce and wasabi; and clam ramen ($19) is filled with shucked sake-steeped littleneck clams, tobiko roe, local julienned sugar snap peas, and crispy nori flakes tossed in a vibrant shiro dashi yuzu dressing. It’s light, citrusy, and perfect for hot summer days. A few vegetarian and gluten-free noodle dishes are featured on the menu as well.
The food is balanced by a selection of sake ($25–$39 per bottle), wine by the glass ($10–$15) and bottle ($40–$90), a handful of beers in bottle and on draft, as well as cocktails ($14). Try the Shinjuku Spicy Margarita, jalapeño-infused Herradura tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and chipotle chile powder. Other options include a raspberry gimlet with Farmer’s Organic Gin and a Roppongi Rum Punch, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Gosling’s Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and strawberry puree.
Chen, a former litigator turned entrepreneur (she’s owned Otto Shrunken Head for the past thirteen years and is an investor in a sake bar in Hong Kong), has spent the past four summers in Sagaponack. Noticing a lack of good Asian fare and affordable eateries in the area, she saw an opportunity. The restaurant offers its ramen at lower price-points than its Miami counterpart to avoid alienating locals and year-round residents. “My brother-in-law Jeff [Chen] started in Miami with twenty seats,” says Chen. “He’s quite successful. He had a formula and model that was working in Miami. We adapted that.”
Momi Ramen is open from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Wednesday through Friday, from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 7, 2015