The foodie-sphere embodies those who know celebrity chefs and people who go out of their way to try the newest venture in town. In April, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto opened his first ramen venture in Manhattan. It landed news on Hypebeast and made my must-eat list the next time I visited the city.
Momosan Ramen & Sake shop regularly packs with a diverse crowd of eaters ranging from those speaking foreign languages to the stand on your chair to capture the most beautiful gram ever visitors. Eater NY recently ranked the business No. 16 on its heat map, which led me to believe I would wait in an hour-long line before eating one of my favorite dishes. Yet on a Saturday morning, I found about 10 patrons forming a small queue just before 11:30 am when the restaurant opened.
Since we stopped in early and two friends ran from two blocks away, the staff seated us at a table for six despite the two missing patrons. Luckily they showed up within four minutes so we kept our promise of filling the spots. We scanned the menu while sitting at a long table with another party of four next to us, but separated so we couldn’t hear much of their conversation. The interior of the restaurant is contemporary with light-colored wood across the ceiling, dangling light bulbs and uplighting against the bottles at the bar.
I ordered a lunch set complete with a zuke don, tantan ramen, kakuni bao a side of pickled cabbage. With the addition of the bun, the total came out to $19 before tax, but hey at least I felt its worth with the raw tuna and celebrity chef name. First came the don with questionably sushi rice, soy marinated tuna, seaweed, scallions and sesame seeds. The tuna’s texture tasted unlike anything I have ever eaten with a gummy-like chewiness. Don’t get me wrong, it was tasty and the small portion left me with a desire to eat an even bigger bowl the next time around. Next came one six-hour braised pork belly bao. The meat was slightly dry, but nothing that an avid bao eater would recognize. A piece of lettuce laid on top added the necessary crunch and there was a perfect amount of duck sauce inside.
Finally the ramen. Momosan described the tantan bowl as “spicy coconut curry, pork chashu, red miso ground pork, aji-tama, cilantro.” The broth held a thick consistency foreshadowing a true richness embodied by coconut milk and spice. The ground pork heightened the taste of the tasty chashu against the miso element. As expected, the egg came perfectly boiled with a runny middle. Justin ordered a tonkotsu ramen that came heavily composed with a seaweed garlic broth that he deemed not great enough to finish. He finished the elements inside but left the broth. The logo on the seaweed though added that must-snap shot though.
Sadly there’s no dessert offerings, but maybe you can chase your meal with a shot of sake to cleanse your palette.
I can imagine revisiting Momosan for my lunch set and unique tantan ramen. If I have to wait more than 15 minutes though, I would set my sights for Totto.
Momosan Ramen & Sake is located on 342 Lexington Avenue in New York.