Everything’s popping up ramen!
2/27/2014, 9:27 p.m.
With all of this snow that has been blanketing us seemingly every day, plus all the ice varying in color from white to gray to black (don’t forget yellow too), I chose to stay in the house as much as possible. We had food, cable and an Internet connection to bring the outside in. There was nothing, nothing that would get me to the corner, let alone to Brooklyn, until that Internet connection showed me an email exposing a ramen pop-up. My cry was simple, “Layer up! There is ramen to eat!”
I have tried a lot of ramen in our fair city, up and downtown. Oh, the perfect amalgamation of a hot bowl of noodles swathed in long-cook broth with a smattering of other victuals evoking kindness toward and an understanding for what the palate is craving—ramen!
So when the Oakland-based Ramen Shop teamed up with the good people of Wythe Hotel in Billyburg, Brooklyn, for a two-night-only pop-up restaurant, I had to go. Perhaps I could recapture the awesome moment of having wicked good Shorty Tang & Sons (@shortytangsons) noodles while banging my head to Ghostface Killah, which I had a couple of years back on a winter’s night in the bowels of Brooklyn. Full circle moment! Let’s rock!
My main man Mark and I decided to roll out on the earlier side of things on the first night so as not to miss out or wait in line—a great plan but poor execution. We took two trains and a little walk over the aforementioned species of ice to wait on a line to check in to then wait for two hours before sitting down to order. I have decided to call the wait “dinner theater,” as we got to watch the owners and their staff put on a show on the constructed Japanese-style noodle bar set while serving the first round of diners.
Thank goodness for wine to numb the growling stomach and elevate the spirits. By the time our name was called, we were ready to order too. Perilously written on blackboard-painted pillars, there were only two kinds of ramen from which to choose: smoked black cod miso or meyer lemon shoyu (vegetarian). While the latter inspired me, our ravenous stomachs chose the former.
The only other item on the menu was a scallop crudo with shaved black radish, blood orange supremes and yogurt. A food allergy prevented that from happening, but it looked good.
At $17 a bowl, this ramen didn’t disappoint—it outdid itself. Unlike any ramen I have had, this one was more like a stew. The broth was thick and rich, almost too rich. If you didn’t pace yourself, a salt-licked food coma would quickly ensue.
For me, it was noodles first to satisfy the slurp beast within, then a bite of all of the proteins in the bowl—smoked black cod, chashu (roast pork belly) and shoyu egg. All of them were fatty and delicious by themselves. Putting them together into the perfect bite was a glutton’s dream. My neighboring diners, including Mark, began falling off, doing a strong Heisman to push the unfinished bowls away from them. I too had to acquiesce.
We relinquished our seats to the next batch of ramen pilgrims and swiftly waddled our way back to Harlem. Ice walk … L train … A train … bed … pass out.
Thank you, Ramen Shop and Wythe Hotel. Do it again real soon!
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.