As brisk fall air descends upon Manhattan, those with soon-to-be chattering teeth can look forward to the comfort of piping-hot ramen. However, our first visit to Jun-Men Ramen Bar (249 Ninth Avenue; 646-852-6787) reveals a menu encompassing a world of ingredients beyond broth. Chef Jun Park and his wife BoMee Chu’s new spot, tucked within a row of identical Chelsea storefronts, mixes Asian traditions with lessons the chef has picked up along the way, offering dishes like a rich, brothless uni mushroom mazeman full of delights like roasted pancetta, porcini butter and truffle oil that could be mistaken for fettuccine alfredo in a blind taste test.
Jun-Men’s opening menu concentrates on straightforward dishes that breathe familiarity, yet are anything but boring. Starters include a variety of buns, from reliable barbecued pork belly to a globally-influenced karaage-style fried chicken with jalapeño mayo. There’s also fried rice with kimchi, basil, and Chinese sausage. A yellowtail ceviche is a cool reminder of Asia’s love affair with seafood. “For the opening menu, we tried to be mindful of offering what people expected, but with our own twist,” BoMee Chu tells the Voice.
As with any restaurant that offers a particular dish as its calling card, ramen and mazeman are what most people will be coming for, which is why guests can pull up a chair at the intimate counter to get a firsthand look at what’s inside the pot.
“We want to maintain the integrity of the broth, which is the base of the ramen, and then layer in flavors which complement it,” Chu explains. Those base ramen flavor combinations include pork bone, spicy miso, and kimchi, the latter a nod to Park’s Korean heritage that includes roasted pork shoulder, egg and scallion. The bar may be too cozy for a group — to better sample each version, the restaurant offers communal dining as well as two tops. To drink, the bar plans to feature a concise offering of Japanese sakes and beers, with ginger-lime and lychee-sake based cocktails rounding out the selection.
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